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TheWarof 
the Worlds 

r>ij ll.G.W'KLLS, .///Mor 
of ^^Thr Time Machine'' 




HARPER At BROIHKRS PUBLISH KkS 
NKW YORK AND LONDON 



■ '■ -Si. 



Copyright, 1897, by H. G. Weixs, 



Copyright, 1898, by Harper & Brothers. 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



TO 

MY BROTHER 

FRANK WELLS 

TK.S RENDERING 
OF 

HI& IDEA 



**But who shah dwellin these Worlds if they he inhabited ?^ 
. . . Are we o*- they Lords of the World? . . . And 
how are all things made for man ?*' 

Kepler (quoted in ** The Anatomy of Melancholy"). 



CONTENTS 



JBooft 1 

THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS 

I. The Eve of the War 3 

II. The Falling-Star 14 

III. On Horsell Common 21 

IV. The Cylinder Unscrews 26 

V. The Heat-Ray 32 

VI. l^HE Heat-Ray in the Chobham Road . . 39 

VII. How I Reached Home 44 

VIII. Friday Night 51 

IX. The Fighting Begins 56 

X. In the Storm 66 

XI. At the Window 77 

XII. What I Saw of the Destruction of Wey- 

bridge and Shepperton 87 

XIII. How I Fell in with the Curate . . . 106 

XIV. In London 115 

XV. What had Happened in Surrey .... 134 

XVI. The Exodus from London 14S 

XVII. The ** Thunder Child" 169 



CONTENTS 
JSooft 11 

THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS 

PAGB 

I. Under Foot 187 

II. What We Saw from the Ruined House . 199 

III. The Days of Imprisonment 215 

IV. The Death of the Curate 224 

V. The Stillness 232 

VI. The Work of Fifteen Days 237 

VII. The Man on Putney Hill 243 

VIII. Dead London 269 

IX. Wreckage 283 



JSooIt f 

THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS 



THE EVE OF THE WAR 

No one would have believed, in the last years 
of the nineteenth century, that human affairs 
Were being watched keenly and closely by in- 
telligences greater than man's and yet as mor- 
tal as his own ; that as men busied themselves 
about their affairs they were scrutinized and 
studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man 
with a microscope might scrutinize the tran- 
sient creatures that swarm and multiply in a 
drop of water. With infinite complacency men 
went to and fro over this globe about their little 
affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire 
over matter. It is possible that the infusoria 
under the microscope do the same. No one 
gave a thought to the older worlds of space as 
sources of human danger, or thought of them 
only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as 
impossible or improbable. It is curious to re- 
call some of the mental habits of those depart- 
ed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied 
there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps 

3 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a 
missionary enterprise. Yet, across the gulf cf 
space, minds that are to our minds as ours are 
to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast 
and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this 
earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely 
drew their plans against us. And early in the 
twentieth century came the great disillusion- 
ment. 

The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the 
reader, revolves about the sun at a mean dis- 
tance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and 
heat it receives from the sun is barely half of 
that received by this world. It must be, if the 
nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than 
our world, and long before this earth ceased to 
be molten life upon its surface must have be- 
gun its course. The fact that it is scarcely 
one-seventh of the volume of the earth must 
have accelerated its cooling to the temperature 
at which life could begin. It has air and water, 
and all that is necessary for the support of ani- 
mated existence. 

Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his 
vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of 
the nineteenth century, expressed any idea 
that intelligent life might have developed 
there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly 
level. Nor was it generally understood that 

4 



THE EVE OF THE WAR 

since Mars is older than our earth, with scarce- 
ly a quarter of the superficial area, and remot- 
er from the sun, it necessarily follows that it 
is not only more distant from life's beginning 
but nearer its end. 

The secular cooling that must some day over- 
take our planet has already gone far indeed 
with our neighbor. Its physical condition 
is still largely a mystery, but we know now 
that even in its equatorial region the mid-day 
temperature barely approaches that of our 
coldest winter. Its air is much more attenu- 
ated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until 
they cover but a third of its surface, and as its 
slow seasons change huge snow caps gather 
and melt about either pole and periodically in- 
undate its temperate zones. That last stage of 
exhaustion, which to us is still incredibly re- 
mote, has become a present-day problem for 
the inhabitants of Mars. The immediate press- 
ure of necessity has brightened their intellects, 
enlarged their powers, and hardened their 
hearts. And looking across space, with instru- 
ments and intelligences such as we have scarce- 
ly dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance, 
only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a 
morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, 
green with vegetation and gray with water, 
with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, 

5 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

with glimpses through its drifting cloud-wisps 
of broad stretches of populous country and 
narrow, navy-crowded seas. 

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this 
earth, must be to them at least as alien and 
lowly as are the nionkeys and lemurs to us. 
The intellectual side of man already admits 
that life is an incessant struggle for existence, 
and it would seem that this too is the belief of 
the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone 
in its cooling, and this world is still crowded 
with life, but crowded only with what they re- 
gard as inferior animals. To carry warfare 
sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the 
destruction that generation after generation 
creeps upon them. 

And before we judge of them too harshly we 
must remember what ruthless and utter de- 
struction our own species has wrought, not only 
upon animals, such as the vanished bison and 
the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The 
Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, 
were entirely swept out of existence in a war 
of extermination waged by European immi- 
grants, in the space of fifty years. Are we 
such apostles of mercy as to complain if the 
Martians warred in the same spirit ? 

The Martians seem to have calculated their 
descent with amazing subtlety — their mathe- 

6 



THE EVE OF THE WAR 

matical learning is evidently far in excess 
of ours — and to have carried out their prep- 
arations with a well - nigh perfect unanim- 
ity. Had our instruments permitted it, we 
might have seen the gathering trouble far 
back in the nineteenth century. Men like 
Schiaparelli watched the red planet — it is odd, 
by-the-by, that for countless centuries Mars 
has been the star of war — but failed to inter- 
pret the fluctuating appearances of the mark- 
ings they mapped so well. All that time the 
Martians must have been getting ready. 

During the opposition of 1894 a great light 
was seen on the illuminated part of the disk, 
first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin 
of Nice, and then by other observers. English 
readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature 
dated August 2d. I am inclined to think that 
the appearance may have been the casting of 
the huge gun, the vast pit sunk into their 
planet, from which their shots were fired at us. 
Peculiar markings, as yet unexplained, were 
seen near the site of that outbreak during the 
next two oppositions. 

The storm burst upon us six years ago now. 
As Mars approached opposition, Lavelle of 
Java set the wires of the astronomical ex- 
change palpitating with the amazing intelli- 
gence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas 

7 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

upon the planet. It had occurred towards 
midnight of the 12th, and the spectroscope, to 
which he had at once resorted, indicated a 
mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving 
with an enormous velocity towards this earth. 
This jet of fire had become invisible about a 
quarter past twelve. He compared it to a 
colossal puff of flame, suddenly and violently 
squirted out of the planet, '' as flaming gas 
rushes out of a gun." 

A singularly appropriate phrase it proved. 
Yet the next day there was nothing of this in 
the papers, except a little note in the Daily 
Telegraphy and the world went in ignorance of 
one of the gravest dangers that ever threat- 
ened the human race. I might not have heard 
of the eruption at all had I not met Ogilvy, 
the well-known astronomer, at Ottershaw. He 
was immensely excited at the news, and in the 
excess of his feelings invited me up to take a 
turn with him that night in a scrutiny of the 
red planet. 

In spite of all that has happened since, I still 
remember that vigil very distinctly : the black 
and silent observatory, the shadowed lantern 
throwing a feeble glow upon the floor in the 
corner, the steady ticking of the clockwork of 
the telescope, the little slit in the roof — an 
oblong profundity, with the star-dust streaked 

8 



THE EVE OF THE WAR 

across it. Ogilvy moved about, invisible but 
audible. Looking through the telescope, one 
saw a circle of deep blue, and the little, round 
planet swimming in the field. It seemed such 
a little thing, so bright and small and still, 
faintly marked with transverse stripes, and 
slightly flattened from the perfect round. But 
so little it was, so silvery warm — a pin's-head of 
light ! It was as if it quivered a little, but 
really this was the telescope vibrating with the 
activity of the clockwork that kept the planet 
in view. 

As I watched the little star seemed to grow 
larger and smaller, and to advance and recede, 
but that was simply that my eye was tired. 
Forty millions of miles it was from us — more 
than forty millions of miles of void. Few peo- 
ple realize the immensity of vacancy in which 
the dust of the material universe swims. 

Near it in the field, I remember, were three 
little points of light, three telescopic stars in- 
finitely remote, and all around it was the un- 
fathomable darkness of empty space. You 
know how that blackness looks on a frosty 
starlight night. In a telescope it seems far 
profounder. And invisible to me, because it 
was so remote and small, flying swiftly and 
steadily towards me across that incredible 
distance, drawing nearer every minute by so 

9 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

many thousands of miles, came the Thing they 
were sending us, the Thing that was to bring 
so much struggle and calamity and death to the 
earth. I never dreamed of it then as I watched ; 
no one on earth dreamed of that unerring mis- 
sile. 

That night, too, there was another jetting 
out of gas from the distant planet. I saw it. 
A reddish flash at the edge, the slightest pro- 
jection of the outline, just as the chronometer 
struck midnight, and at that I told Ogilvy, and 
he took my place. The night was warm and I 
was thirsty, and I went, stretching my legs 
clumsily, and feeling my way in the darkness, 
to the little table where the siphon stood, while 
Ogilvy exclaimed at the streamer of gas that 
come out towards us. 

That night another invisible missile started 
on its way to the earth from Mars, just a sec- 
ond or so under twenty-four hours after the 
first one. I remember how I sat on the table 
there in the blackness, with patches of green 
and crimson swimming before my eyes. I wished 
I had a light to smoke by, little suspecting the 
meaning of the minute gleam I had seen, and 
all that it would presently bring me. Ogilvy 
watched till one, and then gave it up, and we 
lit the lantern and walked over to his house. 
Down below in the darkness were Ottershaw 

10 



THE EVE OF THE WAR 

and Chertsey, and all their hundreds of people^ 
sleeping in peace. 

He was full of speculation that night about 
the condition of Mars, and scoffed at the vul- 
gar idea of its having inhabitants who were 
signalling us. His idea was that meteorites 
might be falling in a heavy shower upon the 
planet, or that a huge volcanic explosion was 
in progress. He pointed out to me how un- 
likely it was that organic evolution had taken 
the same direction in the two adjacent planets. 

*'The chances against anything man-like on 
Mars are a million to one," he said. 

Hundreds of observers saw the flame that 
night and the night after, about midnight, and 
again the night after, and so for ten nights, a 
flame each night. Why the shots ceased after 
the tenth no one on earth has attempted to 
explain. It may be the gases of the firing 
caused the Martians inconvenience. Dense 
clouds of smoke or dust, visible through a pow- 
erful telescope on earth as little gray, fluctu- 
ating patches, spread through the clearness of 
the planet^s atmosphere and obscured its more 
familiar features. 

Even the daily papers woke up to the dis- 
turbances at last, and popular notes appeared 
here, there, and everywhere concerning the 
volcanoes upon Mars. The serio-comic peri- 

II 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

odical Punchy I remember, made a happy use 
of it in the political cartoon. And, all unsus- 
pected, those missiles the Martians had fired 
at us drew earthward, rushing now at a pace 
of many miles a second through the empty 
gulf of space, hour by hour and day by day, 
nearer and nearer. It seems to me now al- 
most incredibly wonderful that, with that swift 
fate hanging over us, men could go about their 
petty concerns as they did. I remember how 
jubilant Markham was at securing a new pho- 
tograph of the planet for the illustrated paper 
he edited in those days. People in these latter 
times scarcely realize the abundance and en- 
terprise of our nineteenth-century papers. For 
my own part, I was much occupied in learning 
to ride the bicycle, and busy upon a series of 
papers discussing the probable developments 
of moral ideas as civilization progressed. 

One night (the first missile then could scarce- 
ly have been 10,000,000 miles away) I went for 
a walk with my wife. It was starlight, and I 
explained the Signs of the Zodiac to her, and 
pointed out Mars, a bright dot of light creep- 
ing zenithward, towards which so many tele- 
scopes were pointed. It was a warm night 
Coming home, a party of excursionists from 
Chertsey or Isleworth passed us singing and 
playing music. There were lights in the upper 

12 



THE EVE OF THE WAR 

windows of the houses as the people went to 
bed. From the railway station in the distance 
came the sound of shunting trains, ringing and 
rumbling, softened almost into melody by the 
distance. My wife pointed out to me the 
brightness of the red, green, and yellow signal 
lights hanging in a framework against the 
sky. It seemed so safe and tranquil. 



II 

THE FALLING -STAR 

Then came the night of the first falling-star. 
It was seen early in the morning rushing over 
Winchester eastward, a line of flame, high in 
the atmosphere. Hundreds must have seen it, 
and taken it for an ordinary falling-star. Al- 
bin described it as leaving a greenish streak 
behind it that glowed for some seconds. Den- 
ning, our greatest authority on meteorites, 
stated that the height of its first appearance 
was about ninety or one hundred miles. It 
seemed to him that it fell to earth about one 
hundred miles east of him. 

I was at home at that hour and writing in 
my study; and although my French windows 
face towards Ottershaw and the blind was up 
(for I loved in those days to look up at the 
night sky), I saw nothing of it. Yet this 
strangest of all things that ever came to earth 
from outer space must have fallen while I was 
sitting there, visible to me had I only looked 
up as it passed. Some of those who saw its 

14 



THE FALLING-STAR 

flight say it travelled with a hissing sound. I 
myself heard nothing of that. Many people 
in Berkshire, Surrey, and Middlesex must have 
seen the fall of it, and, at most, have thought 
that another meteorite had descended. No 
one seems to have troubled to look for the 
fallen mass that night. 

But very early in the morning poor Ogilvy, 
who had seen the shooting-star, and who was 
persuaded that a meteorite lay somewhere on 
the common between Horsell, Ottershaw, and 
Woking, rose early with the idea of finding it. 
Find it he did, soon after dawn, and not far 
from the sand-pits. An enormous hole had 
been made by the impact of the projectile, and 
the sand and gravel had been flung violently 
in every direction over the heath and heather, 
forming heaps visible a mile and a half away. 
The heather was on fire eastward, and a thin 
blue smoke rose against the dawn. 

The Thing itself lay almost entirely buried 
in sand, amidst the scattered splinters of a fir- 
tree it had shivered to fragments in its de- 
scent. The uncovered part had the appear- 
ance of a huge cylinder, caked over, and its 
outline softened by a thick, scaly, dun-colored 
incrustation. It had a diameter of about thirty 
yards. He approached the mass, surprised at 
the size and more so at the shape, since most 

IS 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

meteorites are rounded more or less complete- 
ly. It was, however, still so hot from its flight 
through the air as to forbid his near approach. 
A stirring noise within its cylinder he ascribed 
to the unequal cooling of its surface ; for at 
that time it had not occurred to him that it 
might be hollow. 

He remained standing at the edge of the pit 
that the Thing had made for itself, staring at 
its strange appearance, astonished chiefly at 
its unusual shape and color, and dimly per- 
ceiving even then some evidence of design in 
its arrival. The early morning was wonder- 
fully still, and the sun, just clearing the pine- 
trees towards Weybridge, was already warm. 
He did not remember hearing any birds that 
morning, there was certainly no breeze stirring, 
and the only sounds were the faint movements 
from within the cindery cylinder. He was all 
alone on the common. 

Then suddenly he noticed with a start that 
some of the gray clinker, the ashy incrustation 
that covered the meteorite, was falling off the 
circular edge of the end. It was dropping off 
in flakes and raining down upon the sand. A 
large piece suddenly came off and fell with a 
sharp noise that brought his heart into his 
mouth. 

For a minute he scarcely realized what this 

i6 



THE FALLING-STAR 

meant, and, although the heat was excessive, 
he clambered down into the pit close to the 
bulk to see the Thing more clearly. He fancied 
even then that the cooling of the body might 
account for this, but what disturbed that idea 
was the fact that the ash was falling only from 
the end of the cylinder. 

And then he perceived that, very slowly, the 
circular top of the cylinder was rotating on its 
body. It was such a gradual movement that 
he discovered it only through noticing that a 
black mark that had been near him five min- 
utes ago was now at the other side of the cir- 
cumference. Even then he scarcely understood 
what this indicated, until he heard a muffled 
grating sound and saw the black mark jerk 
forward an inch or so. Then the thing came 
upon him in a flash. The cylinder was arti- 
ficial — hollow — with an end that screwed out ! 
Something within the cylinder was unscrewing 
the top ! 

"Good heavens !" said Ogilvy. "There's a 
man in it — men in it ! Half roasted to death ! 
Trying to escape !" 

At once, with a quick mental leap, he linked 
the Thing with the flash upon Mars. 

The thought of the confined creature was so 
dreadful to him that he forgot the heat, and 
went forward to the cylinder to help turn. 

B 17 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

But luckily the dull radiation arrested him be- 
fore he could burn his hands on the still glow- 
ing metal. At that he stood irresolute for a 
moment, then turned, scrambled out of the 
pit, and set off running wildly into Woking. 
The time then must have been somewhere 
about six o'clock. He met a wagoner and 
tried to make him understand, but the tale he 
told, and his appearance, were so wild — his hat 
had fallen off in the pit — that the man simply 
drove on. He was equally unsuccessful with 
the potman who was just unlocking the doors 
of the public -house by Horsell Bridge. The 
fellow thought he was a lunatic at large, and 
made an unsuccessful attempt to shut him 
into the tap - room. That sobered him a 
little, and when he saw Henderson, the Lon- 
don journalist, in his garden, he called 
over the palings and made himself under- 
stood. 

" Henderson," he called, " you saw that 
shooting-star last night?" 

" Well ?" said Henderson. 

" It*s out on Horsell Common now." 

" Good Lord !" said Henderson. " Fallen 
meteorite ! That's good." 

" But it's something more than a meteorite. 
It's a cylinder — an artificial cylinder, man! 
And there's something inside." 

i8 



THE FALLING-STAR 

Henderson stood up with his spade in his 
hand. 

" What*s that ?*' he said. He was deaf in 
one ear. 

Ogilvy told him all that he had seen. Hen- 
derson was a minute or so taking it in. Then 
he dropped his spade, snatched up his jacket, 
and came out into the road. The two men 
hurried back at once to the common, and found 
the cylinder still lying in the same position. 
But now the sounds inside had ceased, and a 
thin circle of bright metal showed between the 
top and the body of the cylinder. Air was 
either entering or escaping at the rim with a 
thin, sizzling sound. 

They listened, rapped on the scale with a 
stick, and, meeting with no response, they 
both concluded the man or men inside must 
be insensible or dead. 

Of course the two were quite unable to do 
anything. They shouted consolation and prom- 
ises, and went off back to the town again to 
get help. One can imagine them, covered with 
sand, excited and disordered, running up the 
little street in the bright sunlight, just as the 
shop folks were taking down their shutters and 
people were opening their bedroom windows. 
Henderson went into the railway station at 
once, in order to telegraph the news to London. 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

The newspaper articles had prepared men's 
minds for the reception of the idea. 

By eight o'clock a number of boys and un- 
employed men had already started for the 
common to see the "dead men from Mars." 
That was the form the story took. I heard of 
it first from my newspaper boy, about a quar- 
ter to nine, when I went out to get my Daily 
Chronicle. I was naturally startled, and lost 
no time in going out and across the Ottershaw 
bridge to the sand-pits. 



Ill 

ON HORSELL COMMON 

I FOUND a little crowd of perhaps twenty peo- 
ple surrounding the huge hole in which the 
cylinder lay. I have already described the ap- 
pearance of that colossal bulk, imbedded in the 
ground. The turf and gravel about it seemed 
charred as if by a sudden explosion. No doubt 
its impact had caused a flash of fire. Hender- 
son and Ogilvy were not there. I think they 
perceived that nothing was to be done for the 
present, and had gone away to breakfast at 
Henderson's house. 

There were four or five boys sitting on the 
edge of the pit, with their feet dangling, and 
amusing themselves — until I stopped them — 
by throwing stones at the giant mass. After 
I had spoken to them about it, they began 
playing at 'Houch" in and out of the group of 
bystanders. 

Among these were a couple of cyclists, a 
jobbing gardener I employed sometimes, a girl 
carrying a baby, Gregg the butcher and his 

21 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

little boy, and two or three loafers and golf 
caddies who were accustomed to hang about 
the railway station. There was very little 
talking. Few of the common people in Eng- 
land had anything but the vaguest astronom- 
ical ideas in those days. Most of them were 
staring quietly at the big table-like end of the 
cylinder, which was still as Ogilvy and Hen- 
derson had left it. I fancy the popular ex- 
pectation of a heap of charred corpses was 
disappointed at this inanimate bulk. Some 
went away while I was there, and other people 
came. I clambered into the pit and fancied I 
heard a faint movement under my feet. The 
top had certainly ceased to rotate. 

It was only when I got thus close to it that 
the strangeness of this object was at all evi- 
dent to me. At the first glance it was really 
no more exciting than an overturned car- 
riage or a tree blown across the road. Not so 
much so, indeed. It looked like a rusty gas- 
float half buried more than anything else in 
the world. It required a certain amount of 
scientific education to perceive that the gray 
scale of the Thing was no common oxide, that 
the yellowish-white metal that gleamed in the 
crack between the lid and the cylinder had an 
unfamiliar hue. " Extra-terrestrial " had no 
meaning for most of the onlookers. 

22 



ON HORSELL COMMON 

At that time it was quite clear in my own 
mind that the Thing had come from the planet 
Mars, but I judged it improbable that it con- 
tained any living creature. I thought the un- 
screwing might be automatic. In spite of Ogil- 
vy, I still believed that there were men in 
Mars. My mind ran fancifully on the possi- 
bilities of its containing manuscript, on the 
difficulties in translation that might arise, 
whether we should find coins and models in it, 
and so forth. Yet it was a little too large for 
assurance on this idea. I felt an impatience 
to see it opened. About eleven, as nothing 
seemed happening, I walked back, full of such 
thoughts, to my home in Maybury. But I 
found it difficult to get to work upon my ab- 
stract investigations. 

In the afternoon the appearance of the com- 
mon had altered very much. The early edi- 
tions of the evening papers had startled Lon- 
don with enormous headlines : 

"A MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM MARS/' 

"REMARKABLE STORY FROM WOKING," 

and so forth. In addition, Ogilvy's wire to the 
Astronomical Exchange had roused every ob- 
servatory in the three kingdoms. 

23 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

There were half a dozen flys or more from 
the Woking station standing in the road by the 
sand-pits, a basket-chaise from Chobham, and a 
rather lordly carriage. Besides that, there was 
quite a heap of bicycles. In addition, a large 
number of people must have walked, in spite of 
the heat of the day, from Woking and Chert- 
sey, so that there was altogether quite a con- 
siderable crowd — one or two gayly dressed 
ladies among the others. 

It was glaringly hot, not a cloud in the sky, 
nor a breath of wind, and the only shadow was 
that of the few scattered pine-trees. The 
burning heather had been extinguished, but 
the level ground towards Ottershaw was black- 
ened as far as one could see, and still giving off 
vertical streamers of smoke. An enterprising 
sweet-stuff dealer in the Chobham Road had 
sent up his son with a barrow-load of green 
apples and ginger-beer. 

Going to the edge of the pit, I found it occu- 
pied by a group of about half a dozen men — 
Henderson, Ogilvy, and a tall, fair-haired man 
that I afterwards learned was Stent, the As- 
tronomer Royal, with several workmen wield- 
ing spades and pickaxes. Stent was giving 
directions in a clear, high-pitched voice. He 
was standing on the cylinder, which was now 
evidently much cooler ; his face was crimson 

24 



ON HORSELL COMMON 

and streaming with perspiration, and some- 
thing seemed to have irritated him. 

A large portion of the cylinder had been un- 
covered, though its lower end was still em- 
bedded. As soon as Ogilvy saw me among the 
staring crowd on the edge of the pit he called 
to me to come down, and asked me if I would 
mind going over to see Lord Hilton, the lord 
of the manor. 

The growing crowd, he said, was becoming a 
serious impediment to their excavations, espe- 
cially the boys. They wanted a light railing 
put up, and help to keep the people back. He 
told me that a faint stirring was occasionally 
still audible within the case, but that the work- 
men had failed to unscrew the top, as it afford- 
ed no grip to them. The case appeared to be 
enormously thick, and it was possible that the 
faint sounds we heard represented a noisy tu- 
mult in the interior. 

I was very glad to do as he asked, and so 
become one of the privileged spectators within 
the contemplated enclosure. I failed to find 
Lord Hilton at his house, but I was told he was 
expected from London by the six o'clock train 
from Waterloo ; and as it was then about a 
quarter past five, I went home, had some tea, 
and walked up to the station to waylay him. 



IV 

THE CYLINDER UNSCREWS 

When I returned to the common the sun 
was setting. Scattered groups were hurrying 
from the direction of Woking, and one or two 
persons were returning. The crowd about the 
pit had increased, and stood out black against 
the lemon-yellow of the sky — a couple of hun- 
dred people, perhaps. There were a number 
of voices raised, and some sort of struggle ap- 
peared to be going on about the pit. Strange 
imaginings passed through my mind. As I 
drew nearer I heard Stent's voice : 

" Keep back ! Keep back l" 

A boy came running towards me. 

" It's a-movin','' he said to me as he passed 
— " a-screwin' and a-screwin' out. I don't like 
it I'm a-goin' 'ome, I am." 

I went on to the crowd. There were really, 
I should think, two or three hundred people 
elbowing and jostling one another, the one or 
two ladies there being by no means the most 
active. 

26 



THE CYLINDER UNSCREWS 

" He's fallen in the pit !" cried someone. 

" Keep back !" said several. 

The crowd swayed a little, and I elbowed 
my way through. Every one seemed greatly 
excited. I heard a peculiar humming sound 
from the pit. 

" I say !" said Ogilvy ; " help keep these idiots 
back. We don't know what's in the confounded 
thing, you know !" 

I saw a young man, a shop assistant in 
Woking I believe he was, standing on the 
cylinder and trying to scramble out of the 
hole again. The crowd had pushed him in. 

The end of the cylinder was being screwed 
out from within. Nearly two feet of shining- 
screw projected. Somebody blundered against 
me, and I narrowly missed being pitched on 
to the top of the screw. I turned, and as I 
did so the screw must have come out, and 
the lid of the cylinder fell upon the gravel 
with a ringing concussion. I stuck my elbow 
into the person behind me, and turned my 
head towards the Thing again. For a moment 
that circular cavity seemed perfectly black. I 
had the sunset in my eyes. 

I think every one expected to see a man 
emerge — possibly something a little unlike us 
terrestrial men, but in all essentials a man. I 
know I did. But, looking, I presently saw 

27 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

something stirring within the shadow: gray- 
ish billowy movements, one above another, and 
then two luminous disks — like eyes. Then.some- 
thing resembling a little gray snake, about the 
thickness of a walking-stick, coiled up out of 
the writhing middle, and wriggled in the air 
towards me — and then another. 
' A sudden chill came over me. There was a 
loud shriek from a woman behind. I half 
turned, keeping my eyes fixed upon the cyl- 
inder still, from which other tentacles were 
now projecting, and began pushing my way 
back from the edge of the pit. I saw aston- 
ishment giving place to horror on the faces of 
the people about me. I heard inarticulate ex- 
clamations on all sides. There was a general 
movement backward. I saw the shopman 
struggling still on the edge of the pit. I found 
myself alone, and saw the people on the other 
side of the pit running off, Stent among them. 
I looked again at the cylinder, and ungovern- 
able terror gripped me. I stood petrified and 
staring. 

A big grayish, rounded bulk, the size, per- 
haps, of a bear, was rising slowly and painfully 
out of the cylinder. As it bulged up and 
caught the light, it glistened like wet leather. 

Two large dark-colored eyes were regarding 
me steadfastly. It was rounded, and had, one 

28 



THE CYLINDER UNSCREWS 

might say, a face. There was a mouth under 
the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered 
and panted, and dropped saliva. The body 
heaved and pulsated convulsively. A lank 
tentacular appendage gripped the edge of the 
cylinder, another swayed in the air. 

Those who have never seen a living Martian 
can scarcely imagine the strange horror of 
their appearance. The peculiar V - shaped 
mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence 
of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath 
the wedge-like lower lip, the incessant quiver- 
ing of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of ten- 
tacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs 
in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness 
and painfulness of movement, due to the great- 
er gravitational energy of the earth — above 
all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense 
eyes — culminated in an effect akin to nausea. 
There was something fungoid in the oily 
brown skin, something in the clumsy delibera- 
tion of their tedious movements unspeakably 
terrible. Even at this first encounter, this 
first glimpse, I was overcome with disgust and 
dread. 

Suddenly the monster vanished. It had 
toppled over the brim of the cylinder and fall- 
en into the pit, with a thud like the fall of a 
great mass of leather. I heard it give a pecul- 

29 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

iar thick cry, and forthwith another of these 
creatures appeared darkly in the deep shadow 
of the aperture. 

At that my rigor of terror passed away. I 
turned and, running madly, made for the first 
group of trees, perhaps a hundred yards away ; 
but I ran slantingly and stumbling, for I could 
not avert my face from these things. 

There, among some young pine-trees and 
furze bushes, I stopped, panting, and waited 
further developments. The common round 
the sand-pits was dotted with people, standing, 
like myself, in a half-fascinated terror, staring 
at these creatures, or, rather, at the heaped 
gravel at the edge of the pit in which they lay. 
And then, with a renewed horror, I saw a 
round, black object bobbing up and down on 
the edge of the pit. It was the head of the 
shopman who had fallen in, but showing as a 
little black object against the hot western sky. 
Now he got his shoulder and knee up, and 
again he seemed to slip back until only his 
head was visible. Suddenly he vanished, and I 
could have fancied a faint shriek had reached 
me. I had a momentary impulse to go back 
and help him that my fears overruled. 

Everything was then quite invisible, hidden 
by the deep pit and the heap of sand that the 
fall of the cylinder had made. Any one coming 

30 



THE CYLINDER UNSCREWS 

along the road from Chobham or Woking would 
have been amazed at the sight — a dwindling 
multitude of perhaps a hundred people or more 
standing in a great irregular circle, in ditches, 
behind bushes, behind gates and hedges, saying 
little to one another, and that in short, excited 
shouts, and staring, staring hard at a few 
heaps of sand. The barrow of ginger -beer 
stood, a queer derelict, black against the burn- 
ing sky, and in the sand-pits was a row of de- 
serted vehicles with their horses feeding out of 
nose-bags or pawing the ground. 



THE HEAT-RAT 

After the glimpse I had had of the Martians 
emerging from the cylinder in which they had 
come to the earth from their planet, a kind of 
fascination paralyzed my actions. I remained 
standing knee-deep in the heather, staring at 
the mound that hid them. I was a battle- 
ground of fear and curiosity. 

I did not dare to go back towards the pit, but 
I felt a passionate longing to peer into it. I be- 
gan walking, therefore, in a big curve, seeking 
some point of vantage, and continually looking 
at the sand-heaps that hid these new-comers to 
our earth. Once a leash of thin black whips, 
like the arms of an octopus, flashed across the 
sunset and was immediately withdrawn, and 
afterwards a fhin rod rose up, joint by joint, 
bearing at its apex a circular disk that spun 
with a wobbling motion. What could be going 
on there ? 

Most of the spectators had gathered in one 
or two groups — one a little crowd towards 

32 



THE HEAT-RAY 

Woking, the other a knot of people in the 
direction of Chobham. Evidently they shared 
my mental conflict. There were few near me. 
One man I approached — he was, I perceived, a 
neighbor of mine, though I did not know his 
name — and accosted. But it was scarcely a 
time for articulate conversation. 

" What ugly brutes !'' he said. " Good God ! 
what ugly brutes !" He repeated this over 
and over again. 

" Did you see a man in the pit ?" I said ; but 
he made me no answer to that. We became 
silent, and stood watching for a time side by 
side, deriving, I fancy, a certain comfort in one 
another's company. Then I shifted my posi- 
tion to a little knoll that gave me the advantage 
of a yard or more of elevation, and when I 
looked for him presently he was walking tow- 
ards Woking. 

The sunset faded to twilight before anything 
further happened. The crowd far away on the 
left, towards Woking, seemed to grow, and I 
heard now a faint murmur from it. The little 
knot of people towards Chobham dispersed. 
There was scarcely an intimation of move- 
ment from the pit. 

It was this, as much as anything, that gave 
people courage, and I suppose the new arrivals 
from Woking also helped to restore confidence. 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

At any rate, as the dusk came on a slow, in- 
termittent movement upon the sand-pits began, 
a movement that seemed to gather force as 
the stillness of the evening about the cylinder 
remained unbroken. Vertical black figures in 
twos and threes would advance, stop, watch, 
and advance again, spreading out as they did 
St) in a thin irregular crescent that promised 
to enclose the pit in its attenuated horns. I, 
too, on my side began to move towards the 
pit. 

Then I saw some cabmen and others had 
walked boldly into the sand-pits, and heard 
the clatter of hoofs and the gride of wheels. 
I saw a lad trundling off the barrow of apples. 
And then, within thirty yards of the pit, ad- 
vancing from the direction of Horsell, I noted 
a little black knot of men, the foremost of 
whom was waving a white flag. 

This was the Deputation. There had been 
a hasty consultation, and, since the Martians 
were evidently, in spite of their repulsive 
forms, intelligent creatures, it had been re- 
solved to show them, by approaching them 
with signals, that we, too, were intelligent. 

Flutter, flutter, went the flag, first to the 
right, then to the left. It was too far for me 
to recognize any one there, but afterwards I 
learned that Ogilvy, Stent, and Henderson 

34 



THE HEAT-RAY 

^ere with others in this attempt at communi- 
cation. This little group had in its advance 
dragged inward, so to speak, the circumference 
of the now almost complete circle of people, 
and a number of dim black figures followed it 
at discreet distances. 

Suddenly there was a flash of light, and a 
quantity of luminous greenish smoke came out 
of the pit in three distinct puffs, which drove up, 
one after the other, straight into the still air. 

This smoke (or flame, perhaps, would be the 
better word for it) was so bright that the deep 
blue sky overhead, and the hazy stretches of 
brown common towards Chertsey, set with 
black pine-trees, seemed to darken abruptly 
as these puffs arose, and to remain the darker 
after their dispersal. At the same time a faint 
hissing sound became audible. 

Beyond the pit stood the little wedge of 
people, with the white flag at its apex, arrested 
hy these phenomena, a little knot of small ver- 
tical black shapes upon the black ground. As 
the green smoke rose, their faces flashed out 
pallid green, and faded again as it vanished. 
Then slowly the hissing passed into a hum- 
ming, into a long, loud, droning noise. Slowly < 
a humped shape rose out of the pit, and the 
ghost of a beam of light seemed to flicker out 
from it. 

35 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright 
glare leaping from one to another, sprang from 
the scattered group of men. It was as if some 
invisible jet impinged upon them and flashed 
into white flame. It was as if each man were 
suddenly and momentarily turned to fire. 

Then, by the light of their own destruction, 
I saw them staggering and falling, and their 
supporters turning to run. 

I stood staring, not as yet realizing that this 
was death leaping from man to man in that 
little distant crowd. All I felt was that it was 
something very strange. An almost noiseless 
and blinding flash of light, and a man fell head- 
long and lay still ; and as the unseen shaft of 
heat passed over them, pine-trees burst into 
fire, and every dry furze-bush became with one 
dull thud a mass of flames. And far away 
towards Knaphill I saw the flashes of trees and 
hedges and wooden buildings suddenly set 
alight. 

It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, 
this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable 
sword of heat. I perceived it coming towards 
me by the flashing bushes it touched, and was 
too astounded and stupefied to stir. I heard 
the crackle of fire in the sand-pits and the sud- 
den squeal of a horse that was as suddenly 
stilled. Then it was as if an invisible yet in- 

36 



THE HEAT-RAY 

tensely heated finger were drawn through the 
heather between me and the Martians, and all 
along a curving line beyond the sand-pits the 
dark ground smoked and crackled. Something 
fell with a crash far away to the left where the 
road from Woking station opens out on the 
common. Forthwith the hissing and humming 
ceased, and the black, dome-like object sank 
slowly out of sight into the pit. 

All this had happened with such swiftness 
that I had stood motionless, dumfounded and 
dazzled by the flashes of light. Had that death 
swept through a full circle, it must inevitably 
have slain me in my surprise. But it passed 
and spared me, and left the night about me 
suddenly dark and unfamiliar. 

The undulating common seemed now dark 
almost to blackness, except where its roadways 
lay gray and pale under the deep-blue sky of 
the early night. It was dark, and suddenly 
void of men. Overhead the stars were muster- 
ing, and in the west the sky was still a pale, 
bright, almost greenish blue. The tops of the 
pine-trees and the roofs of Horsell came out 
sharp and black against the western afterglow. 
The Martians and their appliances were alto- 
gether invisible, save for that thin mast upon 
which their restless mirror wobbled. Patches 
of bush and isolated trees here and there 

^7 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

smoked and glowed still, and the houses towards 
Woking station were sending up spires of flame 
into the stillness of the evening air. 

Nothing was changed save for that and a ter- 
rible astonishment. The little group of black 
specks with the flag of white had been swept 
out of existence, and the stillness of the even- 
ing, so it seemed to me, had scarcely been 
broken. 

It came to me that I was upon this dark 
common, helpless, unprotected, and alone. 
Suddenly, like a thing falling upon me from 
without, came — Fear. 

With an effort I turned and began a stum- 
bling run through the heather. 

The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a 
panic terror, not only of the Martians, but of 
the dusk and stillness all about me. Such an 
extraordinary effect in unmanning me it had 
that I ran weeping silently as a child might do. 
Once I had turned, I did not dare to look back. 

I remember I felt an extraordinary persuasion 
that I was being played with, that presently, 
when I was upon the very verge of safety, 
this mysterious death — as swift as the passage 
of light — would leap after me from the pit 
about the cylinder and strike me down. 



VI 

THE HEAT-RAY IN THE CHOBHAM ROAD 

It is still a matter of wonder how the Mar- 
tians are able to slay men so swiftly and so 
silently. Many think that in some way they 
are able to generate an intense heat in a 
chamber of practically absolute non-conduc- 
tivity. This intense heat they project in a 
parallel beam against any object they choose 
by means of a polished parabolic mirror of 
unknown composition, much as the parabolic 
mirror of a light-house projects a beam of light. 
But no one has absolutely proved these details. 
However it is done, it is certain that a beam of 
heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and 
invisible, instead of visible light. Whatever 
is combustible flashes into flame at its touch, 
lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks 
and melts glass, and, when it falls upon water, 
incontinently that explodes into steam. 

That night nearly forty people lay under the 
starlight about the pit, charred and distorted 
beyond recognition, and all night long the 

39 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

common from Horsell to Maybury was de- 
serted and brightly ablaze. 

The news of the massacre probably reached 
Chobham, Woking, and Ottershaw about the 
same time. In Woking the shops had closed 
when the tragedy happened, and a number of 
people, shop-people and so forth, attracted by 
the stories they had heard, were walking over 
Horsell Bridge and along the road between the 
hedges that run out at last upon the common. 
You may imagine the young people brushed 
up after the labors of the day, and making this 
novelty, as they would make any novelty, the 
excuse for walking together and enjoying a 
trivial flirtation. You may figure to yourself 
the hum of voices along the road in the gloam- 
ing. . . . 

As yet, of course, few people in Woking even 
knew that the cylinder had opened, though 
poor Henderson had sent a messenger on a 
bicycle to the post-office with a special wire 
to an evening paper. 

As these folks came out by twos and threes 
upon the open, they found little knots of peo- 
ple talking excitedly and peering at the spin- 
ning mirror over the sand-pits, and the new- 
comers were, no doubt, soon infected by the 
excitement of the occasion. 

By half-past eight, when the Deputation was 

40 



IN THE CHOBHAM ROAD 

destroyed, there may have been a crowd of 
three hundred people or more at this place, be- 
sides those who had left the road to approach 
the Martians nearer. There were three po- 
licemen, too, one of whom was mounted, doing 
their best, under instructions from Stent, to 
keep the people back and deter them from 
approaching the cylinder. There was some 
booing from those more thoughtless and ex- 
citable souls to whom a crowd is always an 
occasion for noise and horse-play. 

Stent and Ogilvy, anticipating some pos- 
sibilities of a collision, had telegraphed from 
Horsell to the barracks as soon as the Martians 
emerged, for the help of a company of soldiers 
to protect these strange creatures from vio- 
lence. After that they returned to lead that 
ill-fated advance. The description of their 
death, as it was seen by the crowd, tallies very 
closely with my own impressions : the three 
puffs of green smoke, the deep humming note, 
and the flashes of flame. 

But that crowd of people had a far narrower 
escape than mine. Only the fact that a hum- 
mock of heathery sand intercepted the lower 
part of the Heat-Ray saved them. Had the 
elevation of the parabolic mirror been a few 
yards higher^ none could have lived to tell the 
tale. They saw the flashes, and the men fall 

41 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ing, and an invisible hand, as it were, lit the 
bushes as it hurried towards them through the 
twilight. Then, with a whistling note that 
rose above the droning of the pit, the beam 
swung close over their heads, lighting the tops 
of the beech-trees that line the road, and split- 
ting the bricks, smashing the windows, firing 
the window - frames, and bringing down in 
crumbling ruin a portion of the gable of the 
house nearest the corner. 

In the sudden thud, hiss, and glare of the 
igniting trees, the panic-stricken crowd seems 
to have swayed hesitatingly for some mo- 
ments. Sparks and burning twigs began to 
fall into the road, and single leaves, like puffs 
of flame. Hats and dresses caught fire. Then 
came a crying from the common. There were 
shrieks and shouts, and suddenly a mounted 
policeman came galloping through the con- 
fusion with his hands clasped over his head, 
screaming. 

"They're coming!" a woman shrieked, and 
incontinently every one was turning and push- 
ing at those behind, in order to clear their way 
to Woking again. They must have bolted as 
blindly as a flock of sheep. Where the road 
grows narrow and black between the high 
banks the crowd jammed, and a desperate 
struggle occurred. All that crowd did not 

42 



IN THE CHOBHAM ROAD 

escape; three persons at least, two women 
and a little boy, were crushed and trampled 
there, and left to die amid the terror and the 
darkness. 



VII 

HOW I REACHED HOME 

For my own part, I remember nothing of my 
flight except the stress of blundering against 
trees and stumbling through the heather. All 
about me gathered the invisible terrors of the 
Martians ; that pitiless sword of heat seemed 
whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead be- 
fore it descended and smote me out of life. 
I came into the road between the cross-roads 
and Horsell, and ran along this to the cross- 
roads. 

At last I could go no farther ; I was ex- 
hausted with the violence of my emotion and 
of my flight, and I staggered and fell by the 
wayside. That was near the bridge that cross- 
es the canal by the gas-works. I fell and lay 
still. 

I must have remained there some time. 

I sat up, strangely perplexed. For a mo- 
ment, perhaps, I could not clearly understand 
how I came there. My terror had fallen from 

44 



HOW I REACHED HOME 

me like a garment. My hat had gone, and my 
collar had burst away from its fastener. A few 
minutes before there had only been three real 
things before me — the immensity of the night 
and space and nature, my own feebleness and 
anguish, and the near approach of death. Now 
it was as if something turned over, and the 
point of view altered abruptly. There was no 
sensible transition from one state of mind to 
the other. I was immediately the self of 
every day again — a decent, ordinary citizen. 
The silent common, the impulse of my flight, 
the starting flames, were as if it were a dream. 
I asked myself had these latter things indeed 
happened ? I could not credit it. 

I rose and walked unsteadily up the steep 
incline of the bridge. My mind was blank 
wonder. My muscles and nerves seemed 
drained of their strength. I dare say I stag- 
gered drunkenly. A head rose over the arch, 
and the figure of a workman carrying a bas- 
ket appeared. Beside him ran a little boy. 
He passed me, wishing me good-night. I was 
minded to speak to him, but did not. I an- 
swered his greeting with a meaningless mum- 
ble and went on over the bridge. 

Over the Maybury arch a train, a billowing 
tumult of white, firelit smoke, and a long 
caterpillar of lighted windows, went flying 

4S 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

south — clatter, clatter, clap, rap, and it had 
gone. A dim group of people talked in the 
gate of one of the houses in the pretty little 
row of gables that was called Oriental Ter- 
race. It was all so real and so familiar. And 
that behind me ! It was frantic, fantastic ! 
Such things, I told myself, could not be. 

Perhaps I am a man of exceptional moods. 
I do not know how far my experience is com- 
mon. At times I suffer from the strangest 
sense of detachment from myself and the 
world about me ; I seem to watch it all from 
the outside, from somewhere inconceivably re- 
mote, out of time, out of space, out of the 
stress and tragedy of it all. This feeling was 
very strong upon me that night. Here was 
another side to my dream. 

But the trouble was the blank incongruity 
of this serenity and the swift death flying 
yonder, not two miles away. There was a 
noise of business from the gas-works, and the 
electric - lamps were all alight. I stopped at 
the group of people. 

" What news from the common V said I. 

There were two men and a woman at the 
gate. 

"Eh ?" said one of the men, turning. 

" What news from the common ?" I said. 

** 'Ain't yer just deen there ?" asked the men- 

46 



HOW I REACHED HOME 

" People seem fair silly about the common," 
said the woman over the gate. " What's it all 
abart r 

" Haven't you heard of the men from Mars?" 
said I — " the creatures from Mars ?" 

"Quite enough," said the woman over the 
gate. " Thenks ;" and all three of them 
laughed. 

I felt foolish and angry. I tried and found 
I could not tell them what I had seen. They 
laughed again at my broken sentences. 

"You'll hear more yet," I said, and went on 
to my home. 

I startled my wife at the doorway, so hag- 
gard was I. I went into the dining-room, sat 
down, drank some wine, and so soon as I could 
collect myself sufficiently I told her the things 
I had seen. The dinner, which was a cold 
one, had already been served, and remained 
neglected on the table while I told my 
story. 

"There is one thing," I said, to allay the 
fears I had aroused — " they are the most slug- 
gish things I ever saw crawl. They may keep 
the pit and kill people who come near them, 
but they cannot get out of it. . . . But the 
horror of them !" 

" Don't, dear !" said my wife, knitting her 
brows and putting her hand on mine. 

47 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

"Poor Ogilvy !'' I said. "To think he may 
be lying dead there !" 

My wife at least did not find my experience 
incredible. When I saw how deadly white her 
face was, I ceased abruptly. 

" They may come here," she said again and 
again. 

I pressed her to take wine, and tried to 
reassure her. 

" They can scarcely move,*' I said. 

I began to comfort her and myself by re- 
peating all that Ogilvy had told me of the im- 
possibility of the Martians establishing them- 
selves on the earth. In particular I laid stress 
on the gravitational difficulty. On the sur- 
face of the earth the force of gravity is three 
times what it is on the surface of Mars. A Mar- 
tian, therefore, would weigh three times more 
than on Mars, albeit his muscular strength 
would be the same. His own body would be a 
cope of lead to him, therefore. That, indeed, 
was the general opinion. Both the Times and 
the Daily Telegraphy for instance, insisted on 
it the next morning, and both overlooked, 
just as I did, two obvious modifying influ- 
ences. 

The atmosphere of the earth, we now know, 
contains far more oxygen or far less argon 
(whichever way one likes to put it) than does 

48 



HOW I REACHED HOME 

Mars. The invigorating injfiuences of this 
excess of oxygen upon the Martians indisputa- 
bly did much to counterbalance the increased 
weight of their bodies. And, in the second 
place, we all overlooked the fact that such 
mechanical intelligence as the Martian pos- 
sessed was quite able to dispense with muscular 
exertion at a pinch. 

But I did not consider these points at the 
time, and so my reasoning was dead against 
the chances of the invaders. With wine and 
food, the confidence of my own table, and the 
necessity of reassuring my wife, I grew, by 
insensible degrees, courageous and secure. 

**They have done a foolish thing," said I, 
fingering my wineglass. '^ They are dangerous, 
because, no doubt, they are mad with terror. 
Perhaps they expected to find no living things 
— certainly no intelligent living things. 

"A shell in the pit," said I, ^^if the worst 
comes to the worst, will kill them all." 

The intense excitement of the events had no 
doubt left my perceptive powers in a state of 
erethism. I remember that dinner-table with 
extraordinary vividness even now. My dear 
wife's sweet, anxious face peering at me from 
under the pink lamp-shade, the white cloth 
with its silver and glass table furniture — for 
in those days even philosophical writers had 
D 49 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

many little luxuries — the crimson-purple wine 
in my glass, are photographically distinct. At 
the end of it I sat, tempering nuts with a cig- 
arette, regretting Ogilvy's rashness, and de. 
nouncing the short-sighted timidity of the 
Martians. 

So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius 
might have lorded it in his nest, and discussed 
the arrival of that shipful of pitiless sailors in 
want of animal food. *^ We will peck them to 
death to-morrow, my dear." 

I did not know it, but that was the last 
civilized dinner I was to eat for very many 
strange and terrible days. 



VIII 
FRIDAY NIGHT 

The most extraordinary thing, to my mind, 
of all the strange and wonderful things that 
happened upon that Friday, was the dovetail- 
ing of the commonplace habits of our social 
order with the first beginnings of the series of 
events that was to topple that social order 
headlong. If on Friday night you had taken 
a pair of compasses and drawn a circle with a 
radius of five miles round the Woking sand- 
pits, I doubt if you would have had one human 
being outside it, unless it were some relation of 
Stent or of the three or four cyclists or London 
people who lay dead on the common, whose 
emotions or habits were at all affected by the 
new-comers. Many people had heard of the 
cylinder, of course, and talked about it in their 
leisure, but it certainly did not make the sen- 
sation that an ultimatum to Germany would 
have done. 

In London that night poor Henderson^s 
telegram describing the gradual unscrewing of 

SI 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

the shot was judged to be a canard, and his 
evening paper, after wiring for authentication 
from him and receiving no reply — the man was 
killed — decided not to print a special edition. 

Within the five-mile circle even the great 
majority of people were inert. I have already 
described the behavior of the men and women 
to whom I spoke. All over the district people 
were dining and supping ; working-men were 
gardening after the labors of the day, chil- 
dren were being put to bed, young people were 
wandering through the lanes love - making, 
students sat over their books. 

Maybe there was a murmur in the village 
streets, a novel and dominant topic in the pub- 
lic-houses, and here and there a messenger, or 
even an eye-witness of the later occurrences^ 
caused a whirl of excitement, a shouting, and a 
running to and fro ; but for the most part the 
daily routine of working, eating, drinking, 
sleeping, went on as it had done for countless 
years — as through no planet Mars existed in 
the sky. Even at Woking station and Horsell 
and Chobham that was the case. 

In Woking junction, until a late hour, trains 
were stopping and going on, others were shunt- 
ing on the sidings, passengers were alighting 
and waiting, and everything was proceeding 
in the most ordinary way. A boy from the 

52 



FRIDAY NIGHT 

town, trenching on Smith's monopoly, was sell- 
ing papers with the afternoon's news. The 
ringing and impact of trucks, the sharp whistle 
of the engines from the junction, mingled with 
their shouts of *' Men from Mars/' Excited 
men came into the station about nine o'clock 
with incredible tidings, and caused no more 
disturbance than drunkards might have done. 
People rattling Londonwards peered into the 
darkness outside the carriage windows and 
saw only a rare, flickering, vanishing spark 
dance up from the direction of Horsell, a red 
glow and a thin veil of smoke driving across 
the stars, and thought that nothing more 
serious than a heath fire was happening. It 
was only round the edge of the common that 
any disturbance was perceptible. There were 
half a dozen villas burning on the Woking 
border. There were lights in all the houses 
on the common side of the three villages, and 
the people there kept awake till dawn. 

A curious crowd lingered restlessly, people 
coming and going, but the crowd remaining, 
both on the Chobham and Horsell bridges. 
One or two adventurous souls, it was after- 
wards found, went into the darkness and 
crawled quite near the Martians ; but they 
never returned, for now and again a light-ray, 
like the beam of a warship's searchlight, swept 

53 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

the common, and the Heat-Ray was ready to 
follow. Save for such, that big area of com- 
mon was silent and desolate, and the charred 
bodies lay about on it all night under the stars, 
and all the next day. A noise of hammering 
from the pit was heard by many people. 

So you have the state of things on Friday 
night. In the centre, sticking into the skin of 
our old planet Earth, like a poisoned dart, was 
this cylinder. But the poison was scarcely 
working yet. Around it was a patch of silent 
common, smouldering in places, and with a few 
dark, dimly seen objects lying in contorted 
attitudes here and there. Here and there was 
a burning bush or tree. Beyond was a fringe 
of excitement, and farther than that fringe the 
inflammation had not crept as yet. In the rest 
of the world the stream of life still flowed as it 
had flowed for immemorial years. The fever 
of war that would presently clog vein and ar- 
tery, deaden nerve and destroy brain, had still 
to develop. 

All night long the Martians were hammering 
and stirring, sleepless, indefatigable, at work 
upon the machines they were making ready, 
and ever and again a puff of greenish-white 
smoke whirled up to the starlit sky. 

About eleven a company of soldiers came 
through Horsell, and deployed along the edge 

54 



FRIDAY NIGHT 

of the common to form a cordon. Later a 
second company marched through Chobham 
to deploy on the north side of the common. 
Several officers from the Inkerman barracks 
had been on the common earlier in the day, 
and one, Major Eden, was reported to be miss- 
ing. The colonel of the regiment came to the 
Chobham bridge and was busy questioning the 
crowd at midnight. The military authorities 
were certainly alive to the seriousness of the 
business. About eleven, the next morning^s 
papers were able to say, a squadron of hussars, 
two Maxims, and about four hundred men of 
the Cardigan regiment started from Aldershot. 
A few seconds after midnight the crowd in 
the Chertsey road, Woking, saw a star fall 
from heaven into the pine-woods to the north- 
west. It fell with a greenish light, causing a 
flash of light like summer lightning. This 
was the second cylinder. 



IX 

THE FIGHTING BEGINS 

Saturday lives in my memory as a day of 
suspense. It was a day of lassitude, too, hot 
and close, with, I am told, a rapidly fluctuating 
barometer. I had slept but little, though my 
wife had succeeded in sleeping, and I rose 
early. I went into my garden before break- 
fast, and stood listening, but towards the com- 
mon there was nothing stirring but a lark. 

The milkman came as usual. I heard the 
rattle of his chariot, and I went round to the 
side-gate to ask the latest news. He told me 
that during the night the Martians had been 
surrounded by troops, and that guns were 
expected. Then — a familiar, reassuring note 
— I heard a train running towards Woking. 

" They aren't to be killed," said the milkman, 
" if that can possibly be avoided." 

I saw my neighbor gardening, chatted with 
him for a time, and then strolled in to break- 
fast. It was a most unexceptional morning. 
My neighbor was of opinion that the troops 

S6 



THE FIGHTING BEGINS 

would be able to capture or to destroy the 
Martians during the day. 

"It's a pity they make themselves so unap- 
proachable," he said. *' It would be curious to 
learn how they live on another planet ; we 
might learn a thing or two." 

He came up to the fence and extended a 
handful of strawberries, for his gardening was 
as generous as it was enthusiastic. At the 
same time he told me of the burning of the 
pine-woods about the Byfleet Golf Links. 

"They say," said he, "that there's another 
of those blessed things fallen there — number 
two. But one's enough, surely. This lot '11 
cost the insurance people a pretty penny be- 
fore everything's settled." He laughed with 
an air of the greatest good-humor as he said 
this. The woods, he said, were still burning, 
and pointed out a haze of smoke to me. " They 
will be hot underfoot for days, on account of 
the thick soil of pine-needles and turf," he 
said, and then grew serious over "poor Ogilvy." 

After breakfast, instead of working, I de- 
cided to walk down towards the common. Un- 
der the railway bridge I found a group of sol- 
diers — sappers, I think, men in small round 
caps, dirty red jackets unbuttoned, and show- 
ing their blue shirts, dark trousers, and boots 
coming to the calf. They told me no one was 

57 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

allowed over the canal, and, looking along the 
road towards the bridge, I saw one of the Car- 
digan men standing sentinel there. I talked 
with these soldiers for a time ; I told them of 
my sight of the Martians on the previous even- 
ing. None of them had seen the Martians, and 
they had but the vaguest ideas of them, so 
that they plied me with questions. They said 
that they did not know who had authorized 
the movements of the troops ; their idea was 
that a dispute had arisen at the Horse Guards. 
The ordinary sapper is a great deal better ed- 
ucated than the common soldier, and they dis- 
cussed the peculiar conditions of the possible 
fight with some acuteness. I described the 
Heat-Ray to them, and they began to argue 
among themselves. 

'* Crawl up under cover and rush 'em, say 
I," said one. 

"Get aht!" said another. "What*s cover 
against this 'ere 'eat ? Sticks to cook yer ! 
What we got to do is to go as near as the 
ground '11 let us, and then drive a trench." 

" Blow yer trenches ! You always want 
trenches ; you ought to ha* been born a rab- 
bit, Snippy." 

" 'Ain't they got any necks, then ?" said a 
third, abruptly — a little, contemplative, dark 
man, smoking a pipe. 

5S 



THE FIGHTING BEGINS 

I repeated my description. 

" Octopuses," said he, " that's what I calls 
'em. Talk about fishers of men — fighters of 
fish it is this time !'* 

" It ain't no murder killing beasts like that," 
said the first speaker. 

" Why not shell the darned things strite off 
and finish 'em?" said the little dark man. 
" You earn tell what they might do." 

" Where's your shells ?" said the first speak- 
er. "There ain't no time. Do it in a rush, 
that's my tip, and do it at once." 

So they discussed it. After a while I left 
them, and went on to the railway station to 
get as many morning papers as I could. 

But I will not weary the reader with a dis- 
cussion of that long morning and of the long- 
er afternoon. I did not succeed in getting a 
glimpse of the common, for even Horsell and 
Chobham church towers were in the hands of 
the military authorities. The soldiers I ad- 
dressed didn't know anything ; the officers 
were mysterious as well as busy. I found peo- 
ple in the town quite secure again in the pres- 
ence of the military, and I heard for the first 
time from Marshall, the tobacconist, that his 
son was among the dead on the common. The 
soldiers had made the people on the outskirts 
of Horsell lock up and leave their houses. 

59 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

I got back to lunch about two, very tired, 
for, as I have said, the day was extremely hot 
and dull, and in order to refresh myself I took 
a cold bath in the afternoon. About half -past 
four I went up to the railway station to get 
an evening paper, for the morning papers had 
contained only a very inaccurate description 
of the killing of Stent, Henderson, Ogilvy, and 
the others. But there was little I didn't know. 
The Martians did not show an inch of them- 
selves. They seemed busy in their pit, and 
there was a sound of hammering and an al- 
most continuous streamer of smoke. Appar- 
ently they were busy getting ready for a 
struggle. "Fresh attempts have been made 
to signal, but without success," was the stereo- 
typed formula of the papers. A sapper told 
me it was done by a man in a ditch with a flag 
on a long pole. The Martians took as much 
notice of such advances as we should of the 
lowing of a cow. 

I must confess the sight of all this arma- 
ment, all this preparation, greatly excited me. 
My imagination became belligerent, and de- 
feated the invaders in a dozen striking ways ; 
something of my school-boy dreams of battle 
and heroism came back. It hardly seemed a 
fair fight to me at that time. They seemed 
very helpless in that pit of theirs. 

60 



THE FIGHTING BEGINS 

About three o'clock there began the thud of 
a gun at measured intervals from Chertsey or 
Addlestone. I learned that the smouldering 
pine-wood into which the second cylinder had 
fallen was being shelled, in the hope of destroy- 
ing that object before it opened. It was only 
about five, however, that a field-gun reached 
Chobham for use against the first body of 
Martians. 

About six in the evening, as I sat at tea with 
my wife in the summer-house talking vigorous- 
ly about the battle that was lowering upon us^ 
I heard a muffled detonation from the common, 
and immediately after a gust of firing. Close 
on the heels of that came a violent, rattling 
crash, quite close to us, that shook the ground ; 
and, starting out upon the lawn, I saw the tops 
of the trees about the Oriental College burst 
into smoky •red flame, and the tower of the 
little church beside it slide down into ruin. 
The pinnacle of the mosque had vanished, and 
the roof-line of the college itself looked as if a 
hundred-ton gun had been at work upon it. 
One of our chimneys cracked as if a shot had 
hit it, flew, and a piece of it came clattering 
down the tiles and made a heap of broken red 
fragments upon the flower-bed by my study 
window. 

I and my wife stood amazed. Then I real- 

6i 



\ 

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ized that the crest of Maybury Hill must be 
within range of the Martians' Heat-Ray now 
that the college was cleared out of the way. 

At that I gripped my wife's arm, and with- 
out ceremony ran her out into the road. Then 
I fetched out the servant, telling her I would 
go up-stairs myself for the box she was clam- 
oring for. 

"We can't possibly stay here," I said ; and 
as I spoke the firing reopened for a moment 
upon the common. 

" But where are we to go ?" said my wife in 
terror. 

I thought, perplexed. Then I remembered 
her cousins at Leatherhead. 

" Leatherhead !" I shouted above the sudden 
noise. 

She looked away from me downhill. The 
people were coming out of their houses as- 
tonished. 

" How are we to get to Leatherhead?" she said. 

Down the hill I saw a bevy of hussars ride 
under the railway bridge ; three galloped 
through the open gates of the Oriental Col- 
lege ; two others dismounted, and began run- 
ning from house to house. The sun, shining 
through the smoke that drove up from the 
tops of the trees, seemed blood-red, and threw 
an unfamiliar lurid light upon everything. 

C2 



THE FIGHTING BEGINS 

"Stop here," said I; "you are safe here ;'* 
and I started off at once for the Spotted Dog, 
for I knew the landlord had a horse and dog- 
cart. I ran, for I perceived that in a moment 
every one upon this side of the hill would be 
moving. I found him in his bar, quite un- 
aware of what was going on behind his house. 
A man stood with his back to me, talking to 
him. 

" I must have a pound," said the landlord, 
" and I've no one to drive it." 

" I'll give you two," said I, over the stran- 
ger's shoulder. 

" What for ?" 

"And I'll bring it back by midnight," I said. 

" Lord !" said the landlord ; " what's the 
hurry? I'm selling my bit of a pig. Two 
pounds, and you bring it back ? What's going 
on now ?" 

I explained hastily that I had to leave my 
home, and so secured the dog-cart. At the 
time it did not seem to me nearly so urgent 
that the landlord should leave his. I took care 
to have the cart there and then, drove it off 
down the road, and, leaving it in charge of my 
wife and servant, rushed into my house and 
packed a few valuables, such plate as we had, 
and so forth. The beech-trees below the house 
were burning while I did this, and the palings 

63 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

up the road glowed red. While I was occu- 
pied in this way, one of the dismounted hus- 
sars came running up. He was going from 
house to house, warning people to leave. He 
was going on as I came out of my front-door, 
lugging my treasures, done up in a table-cloth. 
I shouted after him : 

"What news?" 

He turned, stared, bawled something about 
" crawling out in a thing like a dish cover,'' 
and ran on to the gate of the house at the 
crest. A sudden whirl of black smoke driv- 
ing across the road hid him for a moment. I 
ran to my neighbor's door, and rapped to sat- 
isfy myself, what I already knew, that his wife 
had gone to London with him, and had locked 
up their house. I went in again, according to 
my promise, to get my servant's box, lugged it 
out, clapped it beside her on the tail of the 
dog-cart, and then caught the reins and jumped 
up into the driver's seat beside my wife. In 
another moment we were clear of the smoke 
and noise, and spanking down the opposite 
slope of Maybury Hill towards Old Woking. 

In front was a quiet, sunny landscape, a 
wheat-field ahead on either side of the road, 
and the Maybury Inn with its swinging sign. 
I saw the doctor's cart ahead of me. At the 
bottom of the hill I turned my head to look at 

64 



THE FIGHTING BEGINS 

the hill-side I was leaving. Thick streamers of 
black smoke shot with threads of red fire were 
driving up into the still air, and throwing dark 
shadows upon the green tree -tops eastward. 
The smoke already extended far away to the 
east and west — to the Byfleet pine-woods east- 
ward, and to Woking on the west. The road 
was dotted with people running towards us. 
And very faint now, but very distinct through 
the hot, quiet air, one heard the whirr of a 
machine-gun that was presently stilled, and 
an intermittent cracking of rifles. Apparent- 
ly the Martians were setting fire to everything 
within range of their Heat-Ray. 

I am not an expert driver, and I had imme- 
diately to turn my attention to the horse. 
When I looked back again the second hill had 
hidden the black smoke. I slashed the horse 
with the whip, and gave him a loose rein until 
Woking and Send lay between us and that 
quivering tumult. I overtook and passed the 
doctor between Woking and Send. 



IN THE STORM 

Leatherhead is about twelve miles from 
Maybury Hill. The scent of hay was in the 
air through the lush meadows beyond Pyrford, 
and the hedges on either side were sweet and 
gay with multitudes of dog-roses. The heavy 
firing that had broken out while we were driv- 
ing down Maybury Hill ceased as abruptly as 
it began, leaving the evening very peaceful 
and still. We got to Leatherhead without 
misadventure about nine o'clock, and the horse 
had an hour's rest while I took supper with 
my cousins and commended my wife to their 
care. 

My wife was curiously silent throughout the 
drive, and seemed oppressed with forebodings 
of evil. I talked to her reassuringly, pointing 
out that the Martians were tied to the pit by 
sheer heaviness, and, at the utmost, could but 
crawl a little out of it ; but she answered only 
in monosyllables. Had it not been for my 
promise to the innkeeper, she would, I think, 

66 



IN THE STORM 

have urged me to stay in Leatherhead that 
night. Would that I had ! Her face, I re- 
member, was very white as we parted. 

For my own part, I have been feverishly ex- 
cited all day. Something very like the war- 
fever that occasionally runs through a civil- 
ized community had got into my blood, and 
in my heart I was not so very sorry that I had 
to return to Maybury that night. I was even 
afraid that that last fusillade I had heard might 
mean the extermination of our invaders from 
Mars. I can best express my state of mind by 
saying that I wanted to be in at the death. 

It was nearly eleven when I started to re- 
turn. The night was unexpectedly dark ; to 
me, walking out of the lighted passage of my 
cousins' house, it seemed indeed black, and it 
was as hot and close as the day. Overhead the 
clouds were driving fast, albeit not a breath 
stirred the shrubs about us. My cousins' man 
lit both lamps. Happily, I knew the road in- 
timately. My wife stood in the light of the 
doorway, and watched me until I jumped up 
into the dog-cart. Then abruptly she turned 
and went in, leaving my cousins side by side 
wishing me good hap. 

I was a little depressed at first with the con- 
tagion of my wife's fears, but very soon my 
thoughts reverted to the Martians. At that 

67 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

time I was absolutely in the dark as to the 
course of the evening's fighting. I did not 
know even the circumstances that had pre- 
cipitated the conflict. As I came through 
Ockham (for that was the way I returned, 
and not through Send and Old Woking) I saw 
along the western horizon a blood - red glow, 
which, as I drew nearer, crept slowly up the 
sky. The driving clouds of the gathering 
thunder-storm mingled there with masses of 
black and red smoke. 

Ripley Street was deserted, and except for a 
lighted window or so the village showed not a 
sign of life ; but I narrowly escaped an acci- 
dent at the corner of the road to Pyrford, 
where a knot of people stood with their backs 
to me. They said nothing to me as I passed. 
I do not know what they knew of the things 
happening beyond the hill, nor do I know if 
the silent houses I passed on my way were 
sleeping securely, or deserted and empty, or 
harassed and watching against the terror of 
the night. 

From Ripley until I came through Pyrford I 
was in the valley of the Wey, and the red glare 
was hidden from me. As I ascended the little 
hill beyond Pyrford Church the glare came into 
view again, and the trees about me shivered 
with the first intimation of the storm that was 

6S 



IN THE STORM 

upon me. Then I heard midnight pealing out 
from Pyrford Church behind me, and then came 
the silhouette of Maybury Hill, with its tree- 
tops and roofs black and sharp against the red. 

Even as I beheld this a lurid green glare lit 
the road about me and showed the distant 
woods towards Addlestone. I felt a tug at the 
reins. I saw that the driving clouds had been 
pierced as it were by a thread of green fire, 
suddenly lighting their confusion and falling 
into the fields to my left. It was the Third 
Falling-Star ! 

Close on its apparition, and blindingly violet 
by contrast, danced out the first lightning of 
the gathering storm, and the thunder burst 
like a rocket overhead. The horse took the bit 
between his teeth and bolted. 

A moderate incline runs down towards the 
foot of Maybury Hill, and down this we clat- 
tered. Once the lightning had begun, it went 
on in as rapid a succession of flashes as I have 
ever seen. The thunder-claps, treading one on 
the heels of another and with a strange crack- 
ling accompaniment, sounded more like the 
working of a gigantic electric machine than 
the usual detonating reverberations. The 
flickering light was blinding and confusing, 
and a thin hail smote gustily at my face as I 
drove down the slope. 

69 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

At first I regarded little but the road before 
me, and then abruptly my attention was ar- 
rested by something that was moving rapidly 
down the opposite slope of Maybury Hill. At 
first I took it for the wet roof of a house, but 
one flash following another showed it to be 
in swift rolling movement. It was an elusive 
vision — a moment of bewildering darkness, and 
then, in a flash like daylight, the red masses of 
the Orphanage near the crest of the hill, the 
green tops of the pine-trees, and this problemat- 
ical object came out clear and sharp and bright. 
And this Thing I saw ! How can I describe 
it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many 
houses, striding over the young pine-trees, and 
smashing them aside in its career ; a walking 
engine of glittering metal, striding now across 
the heather ; articulate ropes of steel dangling 
from it, and the clattering tumult of its pas- 
sage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A 
flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one 
way with two feet in the air, to vanish and 
reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with 
the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can 
you imagine a milking-stool tilted and bowled 
violently along the ground? That was the 
impression those instant flashes gave. But in- 
stead of a milking-stool imagine it a great 
body of machinery on a tripod stand. 
' 70 



IN THE STORM 

Then suddenly the trees in the pine-wood 
ahead of me were parted, as brittle reeds are 
parted by a man thrusting through them ; they 
were snapped off and driven headlong, and a 
second huge tripod appeared, rushing, as it 
seemed, headlong towards me. And I was 
galloping hard to meet it ! At the sight of the 
second monster my nerve went altogether. 
Not stopping to look again, I wrenched the 
horse's head hard round to the right, and in 
another moment the dog-cart had heeled over 
upon the horse ; the shafts smashed noisily, and 
I was flung sideways and fell heavily into a 
shallow pool of water. 

I crawled out almost immediately, and 
crouched, my feet still in the water, under a 
clump of furze. The horse lay motionless (his 
neck was broken, poor brute !) and by the light- 
ning flashes I saw the black bulk of the over- 
turned dog-cart and the silhouette of the wheel 
still spinning slowly. In another moment the 
colossal mechanism went striding by me, and 
passed uphill towards Pyrford. 

Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, 
for it was no mere insensate machine driving 
on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing 
metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering ten- 
tacles (one of which gripped a young pine-tree) 
swinging and rattling about its strange body. 

n 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

It picked its road as it went striding along, 
and the brazen hood that surmounted it moved 
to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a 
head looking about it. Behind the main body 
was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic 
fisherman's basket, and puffs of green smoke 
squirted out from the joints of the limbs as 
the monster swept by me. And in an instant 
it was gone. 

So much I saw then, all vaguely for the 
flickering of the lightning, in blinding high 
lights and dense black shadows. 

As it passed it set up an exultant deafen- 
ing howl that drowned the thunder — ''Aloo ! 
aloo !" — and in another minute it was with its 
companion, half a mile away, stooping over 
something' in the field. I have no doubt this 
Thing in the field was the third of the ten 
cylinders they had fired at us from Mars. 

For some minutes I lay there in the rain and 
darkness watching, by the intermittent light, 
these monstrous beings of metal moving about 
in the distance over the hedge-tops. A thin 
hail was now beginning, and as it came and 
went their figures grew misty and then flashed 
into clearness again. Now and then came a 
gap in the lightning, and the night swallowed 
them up. 

I was soaked with hail above and puddle- 

72 



IN THE STORM 

water below. It was some time before my 
blank astonishment would let me struggle up 
the bank to a drier position, or think at all of 
my imminent peril. 

Not far from me was a little one -roomed 
squatter's hut of wood, surrounded by a patch 
of potato-garden. I struggled to my feet at 
last, and, crouching and making use of every 
chance of cover, I made a run for this. I ham- 
mered at the door, but I could not make the 
people hear (if there were any people inside), 
and after a time I desisted, and, availing my- 
self of a ditch for the greater part of the way, 
succeeded in crawling, unobserved by these 
monstrous machines, into the pine-wood tow- 
ards Maybury. 

Under cover of this I pushed on, wet and 
shivering now, towards my own house, I 
walked among the trees trying to find the 
footpath. It was very dark indeed in the 
wood, for the lightning was now becoming in- 
frequent, and the hail, which was pouring down 
in a torrent, fell in columns through the gaps 
in the heavy foliage. 

If I had fully realized the meaning of all the 
things I had seen I should have immediately 
worked my way round through Byfleet to 
Street Chobham, and so gone back to rejoin 
my wife at Leatherhead. But that night the 

73 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

strangeness of things about me, and my phys- 
ical wretchedness, prevented me, for I was 
bruised, weary, wet to the skin, deafened and 
blinded by the storm. 

I had a vague idea of going on to my own 
house, and that was as much motive as I had. 
I staggered through the trees, fell into a ditch 
and bruised my knees against a plank, and 
finally splashed out into the lane that ran down 
from the College Arms. I say splashed, for 
the storm water was sweeping the sand down 
the hill in a muddy torrent. There in the 
darkness a man blundered into me and sent 
me reeling back. 

He gave a cry of terror, sprang sideways, 
and rushed on before I could gather my wits 
sufficiently to speak to him. So heavy was the 
stress of the storm just at this place that I had 
the hardest task to win my way up the hill. I 
went close up to the fence on the left and 
worked my way along its palings. 

Near the top I stumbled upon something 
soft, and, by a flash of lightning, saw between 
my feet a heap of black broadcloth and a pair 
of boots. Before I could distinguish clearly 
how the man lay, the flicker of light had passed. 
I stood over him waiting for the next flash. 
When it came, I saw that he was a sturdy man, 
cheaply but not shabbily dressed ; his head 

74 



IN THE STORM 

was bent under his body, and he lay crumpled 
up close to the fence, as though he had been 
flung violently against it. 

Overcoming the repugnance natural to one 
who had never before touched a dead body, I 
stooped and turned him over to feel for his 
heart. He was quite dead. Apparently his 
neck had been broken. The lightning flashed 
for a third time, and his face leaped upon me. 
I sprang to my feet. It was the landlord 
of the Spotted Dog, whose conveyance I had 
taken. 

I stepped over him gingerly and pushed on 
up the hill. I made my way by the police- 
station and the College Arms towards my own 
house. Nothing was burning on the hill-side, 
though from the common there still came a 
red glare and a rolling tumult of ruddy smoke 
beating up against the drenching hail. So far 
as I could see by the flashes, the houses about 
me were mostly uninjured. By the College 
Arms a dark heap lay in the road. 

Down the road towards Maybury Bridge 
there were voices and the sound of feet, but I 
had not the courage to shout or to go to them. 
I let myself in with my latch-key, closed, lock- 
ed and bolted the door, staggered to the foot 
of the staircase, and sat down. My imagina- 
tion was full of those striding metallic mon- 

75 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

sters, and of the dead body smashed against 
the fence. 

I crouched at the foot of the staircase with 
my back to the wall, shivering violently. 



XI 

AT THE WINDOW 

I HAVE already said that my storms of emo- 
tion have a trick of exhausting themselves. 
After a time I discovered that I was cold and 
wet, and with little pools of water about me 
on the stair-carpet. I got up almost mechan- 
ically, went into the dining-room and drank 
some whiskey, and then I was moved to 
change my clothes. 

After I had done that I went up - stairs to 
my study, but why I did so I do not know. 
The window of my study looks over the trees 
and the railway towards Horsell Common. In 
the hurry of our departure this window had 
been left open. The passage was dark, and, by 
contrast with the picture the window-frame 
enclosed, that side of the room seemed impen- 
etrably dark. I stopped short in the doorway. 

The thunderstorm had passed. The towers 
of the Oriental College and the pine - trees 
about it had gone, and very far away, lit by a 
vivid red glare, the common about the sand- 

77 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

pits was visible. Across the light, huge black 
shapes, grotesque and strange, moved busily 
to and fro. 

It seemed, indeed, as if the whole country 
in that direction was on fire — a broad hill-side 
set with minute tongues of flame, swaying and 
writhing with the gusts of the dying storm, 
and throwing a red reflection upon the cloud- 
scud above. Every now and then a haze of 
smoke from some nearer conflagration drove 
across the window and hid the Martian shapes. 
I could not see what they were doing, nor the 
clear form of them, nor recognize the black 
objects they were busied upon. Neither could 
I see the nearer fire, though the reflections of 
it danced on the wall and ceiling of the study. 
A sharp, resinous twang of burning was in the 
air. 

I closed the door noiselessly and crept tow- 
ards the window. As I did so, the view open- 
ed out until, on the one hand, it reached to 
the houses about Woking station, and on the 
other to the charred and blackened pine-woods 
of Byfleet. There was a light down below the 
hill, on the railway, near the arch, and several 
of the houses along the Maybury road and the 
streets near the station were glowing ruins. 
The light upon the railway puzzled me at first; 
there were a black heap and a vivid glare, and 

78 



AT THE WINDOW 

to the right of that a row of yellow oblongs. 
Then I perceived this was a wrecked train, the 
fore-part smashed and on fire, the hinder car- 
riages still upon the rails, 

Between these three main centres of light, 
the houses, the train, and the burning country 
towards Chobham, stretched irregular patches 
of dark country, broken here and there by in- 
tervals of dimly glowing and smoking grounds 
It was the strangest spectacle, that black ex- 
panse set with fire. It reminded me, more 
than anything else, of the Potteries when seen 
at night. Of people at first I could distinguish 
none, though I peered intently for them. Later 
I saw against the light of Woking station a 
number of black figures hurrying one after 
the other across the line. 

And this was the little world in which I had 
been living securely for years, this fiery chaos ! 
What had happened in the last seven hours I 
still did not know, nor did I know, though I 
was beginning to guess, the relation between 
these mechanical colossi and the sluggish lumps 
I had seen disgorged from the cylinder. With 
a queer feeling of impersonal interest I turned 
my desk-chair to the window, sat down, and 
stared at the blackened country, and particular- 
ly at the three gigantic black things that were 
going to and fro in the glare about the sand-pits. 

79 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

They seemed amazingly busy. I began to 
ask myself what they could be. Were they 
intelligent mechanisms? Such a thing I felt 
was impossible. Or did a Martian sit within 
each, ruling, directing, using, much as a man's 
brain sits and rules in his body ? I began to 
compare the things to human machines, to ask 
myself for the first time in my life how an iron- 
clad or a steam-engine would seem to an in- 
telligent lower animal. 

The storm had left the sky clear, and over 
the smoke of the burning land the little fad- 
ing pin-point of Mars was dropping into the 
west, when a soldier came into my garden. I 
heard a slight scraping at the fence, and rous- 
ing myself from the lethargy that had fallen 
upon me, I looked down and saw him dimly, 
clambering over the palings. At the sight of 
another human being my torpor passed, and I 
leaned out of the window eagerly. 

" Hist !*' said I, in a whisper. 

He stopped astride of the fence in doubt. 
Then he came over and across the lawn to 
the corner of the house. He bent down and 
stepped softly. 

"Who's there?" he said, also whispering, 
standing under the window and peering up. 

" Where are you going V* I asked, 

"God knows." 

80 



AT THE WINDOW 

** Are you trying to hide ?" 

"That's it/' 

" Come into the house," I said. 

I went down, unfastened the door, and let 
him in, and locked the door again. I could 
not see his face. He was hatless, and his coat 
was unbuttoned. 

*' My God !" he said, as I drew him in. 

" What has happened ?" I asked. 

"What hasn't?" In the obscurity I could 
see he made a gesture of despair. "They 
wiped us out — simply wiped us out," he re- 
peated again and again. 

He followed me, almost mechanically, into 
the dining-room. 

" Take some whiskey," I said, pouring out a 
stiff dose. 

He drank it. Then abruptly he sat down 
before the table, put his head on his arms, and 
began to sob and weep like a little boy, in q 
perfect passion of emotion, while I, with a 
curious forgetfulness of my own recent de- 
spair, stood beside him, wondering. 

It was a long time before he could steady 
his nerves to answer my questions, and then he 
answered perplexingly and brokenly. He was 
a driver in the artillery, and had only come 
into action about seven. At that time firing 
was going on across the common, and it was 
F 8i 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

said the first party of Martians were crawling 
slowly towards their second cylinder under 
cover of a metal shield. 

Later this shield staggered up on tripod legs 
and became the first of the fighting-machines 
I had seen. The gun he drove had been un- 
limbered near Horsell, in order to command 
the sand-pits, and its arrival it was that had 
precipitated the action. As the limber gun- 
ners went to the rear, his horse trod in a rabbit- 
hole and came down, throwing him into a de- 
pression of the ground. At the same moment 
the gun exploded behind him, the ammunition 
blew up, there was fire all about him, and he 
found himself lying under a heap of charred 
dead men and dead horses. 

" I lay still," he said, " scared out of my wits, 
with the forequarter of a horse atop of me. 
We'd been wiped out. And the smell — good 
God ! Like burnt meat ! I was hurt across 
the back by the fall of the horse, and there I 
had to lie until I felt better. Just like parade 
it had been a minute before — then stumble, 
bang, swish ! 

" Wiped out !" he said. 

He had hid under the dead horse for a long 
time, peeping out furtively across the common. 
The Cardigan men had tried a rush, in skir- 
mishing order, at the pit, simply to be swept out 

82 



AT THE WINDOW 

of existence. Then the monster had risen to 
its feet, and had begun to walk leisurely to and 
fro across the common, among the few fugi- 
tives, with its headlike hood turning about ex- 
actly like the head of a cowled human being. 
A kind of arm carried a complicated metallic 
case, about which green flashes scintillated, 
and out of the funnel of this there smote the 
Heat-Ray. 

In a few minutes there was, so far as the 
soldier could see, not a living thing left upon 
the common, and every bush and tree upon it 
that was not already a blackened skeleton was 
burning. The hussars had been on the road 
beyond the curvature of the ground, and he 
saw nothing of them. He heard the Maxims 
rattle for a time and then become still. The 
giant saved Woking station and its cluster of 
houses until the last ; then in a moment the 
Heat-Ray was brought to bear, and the town 
became a heap of fiery ruins. Then the Thing 
shut off the Heat-Ray, and, turning its back 
upon the artilleryman, began to waddle away 
towards the smouldering pine-woods that shel- 
tered the second cylinder. As it did so a sec- 
ond glittering Titan built itself up out of the 
pit. 

The second monster followed the first, and 
at that the artilleryman began to crawl very 

33 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

cautiously across the hot heather ash towards 
Horsell. He managed to get alive into the 
ditch along by the side of the road, and so 
escaped to Woking. There his story became 
ejaculatory. The place was impassable. It 
seems there were a few people alive there, 
frantic for the most part, and many burned 
and scalded. He was turned aside by the fire, 
and hid among some almost scorching heaps 
of broken wall as one of the Martian giants re- 
turned. He saw this one pursue a man, catch 
him up in one of its steely tentacles, and knock 
his head against the trunk of a pine-tree. At 
last, after nightfall, the artilleryman made a 
rush for it and got over the railway embank- 
ment. 

Since then he had been skulking along tow- 
ards Maybury, in the hope of getting out of 
danger Londonward. People were hiding in 
trenches and cellars, and many of the survivors 
had made off towards Woking village and Send. 
He had been consumed with thirst until he 
found one of the water mains near the railway 
arch smashed, and the water bubbling out like 
a spring upon the road. 

That was the story I got from him, bit by 
bit. He grew calmer telling me and trying to 
make me see the things he had seen. He had 
eaten no food since mid-day, he told me early 

84 



AT THE WINDOW 

in his narrative, and I found some mutton and 
bread in the pantry and brought it into the 
room. We lit no lamp for fear of attracting the 
Martians, and ever and again our hands would 
touch upon bread or meat. As he talked, thinp^s 
about us came darkly out of the darkness, and 
the trampled bushes and broken rose-trees out- 
side the window grew distinct. It would seem 
that a number of men or animals had rushed 
across the lawn. I began to see his face, 
blackened and haggard, as no doubt mine was 
also. 

When we had finished eating we went softly 
up-stairs to my study, and I looked again out 
of the open window. In one night the valley 
had become a valley of ashes. The fires had 
dwindled now. Where flames had been there 
were now streamers of smoke ; but the count- 
less ruins of shattered and gutted houses and 
blasted and blackened trees that the night had 
hidden stood out now gaunt and terrible in the 
pitiless light of dawn. Yet here and there 
some object had had the luck to escape — a 
white railway signal here, the end of a green- 
house there, white and fresh amid the wreck- 
age. Never before in the history of warfare 
had destruction been so indiscriminate and 
so universal. And, shining with the growing 
light of the east, three of the metallic giants 

35 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

stood about the pit, their cowls rotating as | 
though they were surveying the desolation 
they had made. 

It seemed to me that the pit had been 
enlarged, and ever and again puffs of vivid 
green vapor streamed up out of it towards 
the brightening dawn — streamed up, whirled, 
broke, and vanished. 

^ Beyond were the pillars of fire about Chob- 
ham. They became pillars of bloodshot smoke 
at the first touch of day. 



XII 



WHAT I SAW OF THE DESTRUCTION OF WEY« 
BRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

As the dawn grew brighter we withdrew 
ourselves from the window, from which we 
had watched the Martians, and went very 
quietly down-stairs. 

The artilleryman agreed with me that the 
house was no place to stay in. He proposed, 
he said, to make his way Londonward, and 
thence rejoin his battery — No. 12, of the Horse 
Artillery. My plan was to return at once to 
Leatherhead, and so greatly had the strength 
of the Martians impressed me that I had de- 
termined to take my wife to Newhaven, and 
go with her out of the country forthwith. For 
I already perceived clearly that the country 
about London must inevitably be the scene of 
a disastrous struggle before such creatures as 
these could be destroyed. 

Between us and Leatherhead, however, lay 
the Third Cylinder, with its guarding giants. 
Had I been alone, I think I should have taken 

37 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

my chance and struck across country. But 
the artilleryman dissuaded me : " It's no kind- 
ness to the right sort of wife/' he said, " to 
make her a widow ;" and in the end I agreed 
to go with him, under cover of the woods, 
northward as far as Street Chobham before I 
parted with him. Thence I would make a big 
detour by Epsom to reach Leatherhead. 

I should have started at once, but my com- 
panion had been in active service, and he 
knew better than that. He made me ransack 
the house for a flask, which he filled with 
whiskey ; and we lined every available pocket 
with packets of biscuits and slices of meat. 
Then we crept out of the house, and ran as 
quickly as we could down the ill-made road 
by which I had come overnight. The houses 
seemed deserted. In the road lay a group of 
three charred bodies close together, struck 
dead by the Heat - Ray ; and here and there 
were things that the people had dropped — a 
clock, a slipper, a silver spoon, and the like 
poor valuables. At the corner turning up 
towards the post-office a little cart, filled with 
boxes and furniture, and horseless, heeled over 
on a broken wheel. A cash-box had been has- 
tily smashed open and thrown under the de- 
bris. 

Except the lodge at the Orphanage, which 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

was still on fire, none of the houses had suffered 
very greatly here. The Heat-Ray had shaved 
the chimney-tops and passed. Yet, save our- 
selves, there did not seem to be a living soul 
on Maybury Hill. The majority of the in- 
habitants had escaped, I suppose, by way of 
the Old Woking road — the road I had taken 
when I drove to Leatherhead — or they had 
hidden. 

We went down the lane, by the body of the 
man in black, sodden now from the overnight 
hail, and broke into the woods at the foot of 
the hill. We pushed through these towards 
the railway without meeting a soul. The 
woods across the line were but the scarred and 
blackened ruins of woods ; for the most part 
the trees had fallen, but a certain proportion 
still stood, dismal gray stems, with dark-brown 
foliage instead of green. 

On our side the fire had done no more than 
scorch the nearer trees ; it had failed to secure 
its footing. In one place the woodmen had 
been at work on Saturday ; trees, felled and 
freshly trimmed, lay in a clearing, with heaps 
of sawdust, by the sawing- machine and its 
engine. Hard by was a temporary hut, de- 
serted. There was not a breath of wind this 
morning, and everything was strangely still. 
Even the birds were hushed, and as we hur* 

89 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ried along I and the artilleryman talked in 
whispers and looked now and again over our 
shoulders. Once or twice we stopped to 
listen. 

After a time we drew near the road, and as 
we did so we heard the clatter of hoofs and 
saw through the tree-stems three cavalry sol- 
diers riding slowly towards Woking. We hailed 
them, and they halted while we hurried tow- 
ards them. It was a lieutenant and a couple 
of privates of the 8th Hussars, with a stand 
like a theodolite, which the artilleryman told 
me was a heliograph. 

"You are the first men I've seen coming 
this way this morning," said the lieutenant. 
"What's brewing?" 

His voice and face were eager. The men 
behind him stared curiously. The artillery- 
man jumped down the bank into the road and 
saluted. 

" Gun destroyed last night, sir. Have been 
hiding. Trying to rejoin battery, sir. You'll 
come in sight of the Martians, I expect, about 
half a mile along this road." 

" What the dickens are they like ?" asked the 
lieutenant. 

" Giants in armor, sir. Hundred feet high. 
Three legs and a body like 'luminium, with a 
mighty great head in a hood, sir." 

90 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

"Get outr said the lieutenant. "What 
confounded nonsense !'* 

" You'll see, sir. They carry a kind of box, 
sir, that shoots fire and strikes you dead." 

" What d'ye mean — a gun ?" 

" No, sir," and the artilleryman began a vivid 
account of the Heat-Ray. Half-way through 
the lieutenant interrupted him and looked up 
at me. I was still standing on the bank by 
the side of the road. 

" Did you see it ?" said the lieutenant. 

" It's perfectly true," I said. 

"Well," said the lieutenant, "I suppose it's 
my business to see it too. Look here " — to the 
artilleryman — " we're detailed here clearing 
people out of their houses. You'd better go 
along and report yourself to Brigadier-General 
Marvin, and tell him all you know. He's at 
Weybridge. Know the way?" 

" I do," I said ; and he turned his horse 
southward again. 

" Half a mile, you say ?" said he. 

"At most," I answered, and pointed over 
the tree-tops southward. He thanked me and 
rode on, and we saw them no more. 

Farther along we came upon a group of 
three women and two children in the road, 
busy clearing out a laborer's cottage. They 
had got hold of a little hand-truck, and were 

91 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

piling it up with unclean-looking bundles and 
shabby furniture. They were all too assidu- 
ously engaged to talk to us as we passed. 

By Byfleet station we emerged from the 
pine-trees, and found the country calm and 
peaceful under the morning sunlight. We 
were far beyond the range of the Heat-Ray 
there, and had it not been for the silent de- 
sertion of some of the houses, the stirring 
movement of packing in others, and the knot 
of soldiers standing on the bridge over the 
railway and staring down the line towards 
Woking, the day would have seemed very like 
any other Sunday. 

Several farm wagons and carts were mov- 
ing creakily along the road to Addlestone, 
and suddenly through the gate of a field we 
saw, across a stretch of flat meadow, six 
twelve-pounders, standing neatly at equal dis- 
tances and pointing towards Woking. The 
gunners stood by the guns waiting, and the 
ammunition wagons were at a business-like 
distance. The men stood almost as if under 
inspection. 

'' That's good !'' said I. " They will get one 
fair shot, at any rate." 

The artilleryman hesitated at the gate. 

" I shall go on,'* he said. 

Farther on towards Weybridge, just over 

Q2 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

the bridge, there were a number of men in 
white fatigue jackets throwing up a long ram- 
part, and more guns behind. 

" It's bows and arrows against the lightning, 
anyhow," said the artilleryman. '' They 'aven*t 
seen that fire-beam yet." 

The officers who were not actively engaged 
stood and stared over the tree-tops south- 
westward, and the men digging would stop 
every now and again to stare in the same 
direction. 

Byfleet was in a tumult, people packing, and 
a score of hussars, some of them dismounted, 
some on horseback, were hunting them about. 
Three or four black government wagons, 
with crosses in white circles, and an old omni- 
bus, among other vehicles, were being loaded 
in the village street. There were scores of 
people, most of them sufficiently sabbatical to 
have assumed their best clothes. The soldiers 
were having the greatest difficulty in making 
them realize the gravity of their position. We 
saw one shrivelled old fellow, with a huge box 
and a score or more of flower-pots containing 
orchids, angrily expostulating with the corpo- 
ral who would leave them behind. I stopped 
and gripped his arm. 

**Do you know what's over there?" I said, 
pointing at the pine-tops that hid the Martians. 

93 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

" Eh ?'* said he, turning. " I was explainin' 
these is vallyble." 

" Death !" I shouted. " Death is coming ! 
Death !'* and, leaving him to digest that if he 
could, I hurried on after the artilleryman. At 
the corner I looked back. The soldier had 
left him, and he was still standing by his box, 
with the pots of orchids on the lid of it, and 
staring vaguely over the trees. 

No one in Weybridge could tell us where 
the headquarters were established ; the whole 
place was in such confusion as I had never 
seen in any town before. Carts, carriages 
everywhere, the most astonishing miscellany 
of conveyances and horseflesh. The respect- 
able inhabitants of the place, men in golf and 
boating costumes, wives prettily dressed, were 
packing, riverside loafers energetically help- 
ing, children excited, and, for the most part, 
highly delighted at this astonishing variation 
of their Sunday experiences. In the midst of 
it all the worthy vicar was very pluckily hold- 
ing an early celebration, and his bell was jang- 
ling out above the excitement. 

I and the artilleryman, seated on the step of 
the drinking-fountain, made a very passable 
meal upon what we had brought with us. 
Patrols of soldiers — here no longer hussars, 
but grenadiers in white — were warning people 

94 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

to move now or to take refuge in their cellars 
as soon as the firing began. We saw as we 
crossed the railway bridge that a growing 
crowd of people had assembled in and about 
the railway station, and the swarming platform 
was piled with boxes and packages. The or- 
dinary traffic had been stopped, I believe, in 
order to allow of the passage of troops and guns 
to Chertsey, and I have heard since that a sav- 
age struggle occurred for places in the special 
trains that were put on at a later hour. 

We remained at Weybridge until mid-day, 
and at that hour we found ourselves at the 
place near Shepperton Lock where the Wey 
and Thames join. Part of the time we spent 
helping two old women to pack a little cart. 
The Wey has a treble mouth, and at this point 
boats are to be hired, and there was a ferry 
across the river. On the Shepperton side was 
an inn, with a lawn, and beyond that the tower 
of Shepperton Church — it has been replaced 
by a spire — rose above the trees. 

Here we found an excited and noisy crowd 
of fugitives. As yet the flight had not grown 
to a panic, but there were already far more 
people than all the boats going to and fro 
could enable to cross. People came panting 
along under heavy burdens ; one husband and 
wife were even carrying a small outhouse 

95 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

door between them, with some of their house- 
hold goods piled thereon. One man told us 
he meant to try to get away from Shepperton 
station. 

There was a lot of shouting, and one man 
was even jesting. The idea people seemed to 
have here was that the Martians were simply 
formidable human beings, who might attack 
and sack the town, to be certainly destroyed in 
the end. Every now and then people would 
glance nervously across the Wey, at the mead- 
ows towards Chertsey, but everything over 
there was still. 

Across the Thames, except just where the 
boats landed, everything was quiet, in vivid 
contrast with the Surrey side. The people 
who landed there from the boats went tramp- 
ing off down the lane. The big ferry-boat had 
just made a journey. Three or four soldiers 
stood on the lawn of the inn, staring and jest- 
ing at the fugitives, without offering to help. 
The inn was closed, as it was now within pro- 
hibited hours. 

" What's that ?" cried a boatman, and " Shut 
up, you fool !" said a man near me to a yelp- 
ing dog. Then the sound came again, this 
time from the direction of Chertsey, a muffled 
thud — the sound of a gun. 

The fighting was beginning. Almost imme- 

96 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

diately unseen batteries across the river to our 
right, unseen because of the trees, took up the 
chorus, firing heavily one after the other. A 
woman screamed. Every one stood arrested 
by the sudden stir of battle, near us and yet 
invisible to us. Nothing was to be seen save 
flat meadows, cows feeding unconcernedly for 
the most part, and silvery pollard willows mo- 
tionless in the warm sunlight. 

** The sojers '11 stop 'em," said a woman be- 
side me, doubtfully. A haziness rose over the 
tree-tops. 

Then suddenly we saw a rush of smoke far 
away up the river, a puff of smoke that jerked 
up into the air, and hung, and forthwith the 
ground heaved underfoot and a heavy explo- 
sion shook the air, smashing two or three win- 
dows in the houses near, and leaving us aston- 
ished. 

** Here they are !" shouted a man in a blue 
jersey. ^'Yonder ! D'yer see them ? Yonder !" 

Quickly, one after the other, one, two, three, 
four of the armored Martians appeared, far 
away over the little trees, across the flat mead- 
ows that stretch towards Chertsey, and strid- 
ing hurriedly towards the river. Little cowled 
figures they seemed at first, going with a roll- 
ing motion and as fast as flying birds. 

Then, advancing obliquely towards us, came 
G 97 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

a fifth. Their armored bodies glittered in the 
sun as they swept swiftly forward upon the 
guns, growing rapidly larger as they drew 
nearer. One on the extreme left, the remotest, 
that is, flourished a huge case high in the air, 
and the ghostly, terrible Heat-Ray I had al- 
ready seen on Friday night smote towards 
Chertsey and struck the town. 

At sight of these strange, swift, and terri- 
ble creatures the crowd near the water's edge 
seemed to me to be for a moment horror- 
struck. There was no screaming or shouting, 
but a silence. Then a hoarse murmur and a 
movement of feet — a splashing from the water. 
A man, too frightened to drop the portmanteau 
he carried on his shoulder, swung round and 
sent me staggering with a blow from the corner 
of his burden. A woman thrust at me with 
her hand and rushed past me. I turned, too, 
with the rush of the people, but I was not too 
terrified for thought. The terrible Heat-Ray 
was in my mind. To get under water ! That 
was it ! 

" Get under water !" I shouted, unheeded. 

I faced about again, and rushed towards the 
approaching Martian, rushed right down the 
gravelly beach and headlong into the water. 
Others did the same. A boatload of people 
putting back came leaping out as I rushed 

98 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

past. The stones under my feet were muddy 
and slippery, and the river was so low that I 
ran perhaps twenty feet scarcely waist-deep. 
Then, as the Martian towered overhead scarce- 
ly a couple of hundred yards away, I flung my- 
self forward under the surface. The splashes 
of the people in the boats leaping into the river 
sounded like thunder-claps in my ears. Peo- 
ple were landing hastily on both sides of the 
river. 

But the Martian machine took no more no- 
tice for the moment of the people running this 
way and that than a man would of the confu- 
sion of ants in a nest against which his foot 
has kicked. When, half suffocated, I raised 
my head above water, the Martian's hood 
pointed at the batteries that were still firing 
across the river, and as it advanced it swung 
loose what must have been the generator of the 
Heat-Ray. 

In another moment it was on the bank, and 
in a stride wading half-way across. The knees 
of its foremost legs bent at the farther bank, 
and in another moment it had raised itself to 
its full height again, close to the village of 
Shepperton. Forthwith the six guns, which, 
unknown to any one on the right bank, had 
been hidden behind the outskirts of that vil- 
lage, fired simultaneously. The sudden near 

99 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

concussions, the last close upon the first, made 
my heart jump. The monster was already 
raising the case generating the Heat-Ray as 
the first shell burst six yards above the hood. 

I gave a cry of astonishment. I saw and 
thought nothing of the other four Martian 
monsters ; my attention was riveted upon the 
nearer incident. Simultaneously two other 
shells burst in the air near the body as the 
hood twisted round in time to receive, but not 
in time to dodge, the fourth shell. 

The shell burst clean in the face of the 
Thing. The hood bulged, flashed, was whirled 
off in a dozen tattered fragments of red flesh 
and glittering metal. 

" Hit !" shouted I, with something between a 
scream and a cheer. 

I heard answering shouts from the people in 
the water about me. I could have leaped out 
of the water with that momentary exultation. 

The decapitated colossus reeled Jike a drunk- 
en giant ; but it did not fall over. It recov- 
ered its balance by a miracle, and, no longer 
heeding its steps, and with the camera that fired 
the Heat - Ray now rigidly upheld, it reeled 
swiftly upon Shepperton. The living intelli- 
gence, the Martian within the hood, was slain 
and splashed to the four winds of heaven, and 
the Thing was now but a mere intricate device 

lOO 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

of metal whirling to destruction. It drove 
along in a straight line, incapable of guidance. 
It struck the tower of Shepperton Church, 
smashing it down as the impact of a batter- 
ing-ram might have done, swerved aside, blun- 
dered on, and collapsed with tremendous force 
into the river out of my sight. 

A violent explosion shook the air, and a 
spout of water, steam, mud, and shattered 
metal shot far up into the sky. As the cam- 
era of the Heat-Ray hit the water, the latter 
had continently flashed into steam. In an- 
other moment a huge wave, like a muddy tidal 
bore, but almost scaldingly hot, came sweeping 
round the bend up-stream. I saw people strug- 
gling shorewards, and heard their screaming 
and shouting faintly above the seething and 
roar of the Martian's collapse. 

For the moment I heeded nothing of the 
heat, forgot the patent need of self-preserva- 
tion. I splashed through the tumultuous wa- 
ter, pushing aside a man in black to do so, until 
I could see round the bend. Half a dozen de- 
serted boats pitched aimlessly upon the confu- 
sion of the waves. The fallen Martian came 
into sight down-stream, lying across the river, 
and for the most part submerged. 

Thick clouds of steam were pouring off the 
wreckage, and through the tumultuously whirl- 

lOI 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ing wisps I could see, intermittently and vague- 
ly, the gigantic limbs churning the water and 
flinging a splash and spray of mud and froth 
into the air. The tentacles swayed and struck 
like living arms, and, save for the helpless pur- 
poselessness of these movements, it was as if 
some wounded thing were struggling for its life 
amid the waves. Enormous quantities of a 
ruddy-brown fluid were spurting up in noisy 
jets out of the machine. 

My attention was diverted from their strug- 
gles by a furious yelling, like that of the thing 
called a siren in our manufacturing towns. A 
man, knee-deep near the towing-path, shouted 
inaudibly to me and pointed. Looking back, I 
saw the other Martians advancing with gigan- 
tic strides down the river-bank from the direc- 
tion of Chertsey. The Shepperton guns spoke 
this time unavailingly. 

At that I ducked at once under water, and, 
holding my breath until movement was an 
agony, blundered painfully along under the 
surface as long as I could. The water was in a 
tumult about me, and rapidly growing hotter. 

When for a moment I raised my head to take 
breath and throw the hair and water from my 
eyes, the steam was rising in a whirling white 
fog that at first hid the Martians altogether. 
The noise was deafening. Then I saw them 

I02 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

dimly, colossal figures of gray, magnified by 
the mist. They had passed by me, and two 
were stooping over the frothing, tumultuous 
ruins of their comrade. 

The third and fourth stood beside him in 
the water, one perhaps two hundred yards from 
me, the other towards Laleham. The genera- 
tors of the Heat - Rays waved high, and the 
hissing beams smote down this way and that. 

The air was full of sound, a deafening and con- 
fusing conflict of noises — the clangorous din of 
the Martians, the crash of falling houses, the 
thud of trees, fences, sheds, flashing into flame, 
and the crackling and roaring of fire. Dense 
black smoke was leaping up to mingle with the 
steam from the river, and as the Heat - Ray 
went to and fro over Weybridge its impact 
was marked by flashes of incandescent white, 
that gave place at once to a smoky dance of 
lurid flames. The nearer houses still stood in- 
tact, awaiting their fate, shadowy, faint, and 
pallid in the steam, with the fire behind them 
going to and fro. 

For a moment, perhaps, I stood there, breast- 
high in the almost boiling water, dumfounded 
at my position, hopeless of escape. Through 
the reek I could see the people who had been 
with me in the river scrambling out of the 
water through the reeds, like little frogs hur- 

IC3 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

rying through grass from the advance of a 
man, or running to and fro in utter dismay 
on the towing-path. 

Then, suddenly, the white flashes of the Heat- 
Ray came leaping towards me. The houses 
caved in as they dissolved at its touch, and 
darted out flames ; the trees changed to fire 
with a roar. It flickered up and down the 
towing - path, licking off the people who ran 
this way and that, and came down to the 
water's edge not fifty yards from where I 
stood. It swept across the river to Shepper- 
ton, and the water in its track rose in a boil- 
ing wheal crested with steam. I turned shore- 
ward. 

In another moment the huge wave, wellnigh 
at the boiling-point, had rushed upon me. I 
screamed aloud, and, scalded, half blinded, 
agonized, I staggered through the leaping, 
hissing water towards the shore. Had my 
foot stumbled, it would have been the end. I 
fell helplessly, in full sight of the Martians, 
upon the broad, bare gravelly spit that runs 
down to mark the angle of the Wey and 
Thames. I expected nothing but death. 

I have a dim memory of the foot of a Mar- 
tian coming down within a score of yards of 
my head, driving straight into the loose gravel, 
whirling it this way and that, and lifting again ; 

104 



WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON 

of a long suspense, and then of the four carry- 
ing the debris of their comrade between them, 
now clear and then presently faint, through 
a veil of smoke, receding interminably, as it 
seemed to me, across a vast space of river and 
meadow. And then, very slowly, I realized 
that by a miracle I had escapee. 



XIII 

HOW I FEIX. IN WITH THE CURATE 

After giving this sudden lesson in the 
power of terrestrial weapons, the Martians re- 
treated to their original position upon Horsell 
Common, and in their haste, and encumbered 
with the debris of their smashed companion, 
they no doubt overlooked many such a stray 
and unnecessary victim as myself. Had they 
left their comrade, and pushed on forthwith, 
there was nothing at that time between them 
and London but batteries of twelve - pounder 
guns, and they would certainly have reached 
the capital in advance of the tidings of their 
approach ; as sudden, dreadful, and destructive 
their advent would have been as the earth- 
quake that destroyed Lisbon a century ago. 

But they were in no hurry. Cylinder fol- 
lowed cylinder in its interplanetary flight ; 
every twenty - four hours brought them rein- 
forcement. And, meanwhile, the military and 
naval authorities, now fully alive to the tre- 
mendous power of their antagonists, worked 

io6 



WITH THE CURATE 

with furious energy. Every minute a fresh 
gun came into position, until, before twilight, 
every copse, every row of suburban villas on 
the hilly slopes about Kingston and Rich- 
mond, masked an expectant black muzzle. 
And through the charred and desolated area 
— perhaps twenty square miles altogether — 
that encircled the Martian encampment on 
Horsell Common, through charred and ruined 
villages among the green trees, through the 
blackened and smoking arcades that had been 
but a day ago pine spinneys, crawled the de- 
voted scouts with the heliographs that were 
presently to warn the gunners of the Martian 
approach. But the Martians now understood 
our command of artillery and the danger of 
human proximity, and not a man ventured 
within a mile of either cylinder, save at the 
price of his life. 

It would seem that these giants spent the ear- 
lier part of the afternoon in going to and fro, 
transferring everything from the second and 
third cylinders — the second in Addlestone Golf 
Links and the third at Pyrford — to their orig- 
inal pit on Horsell Common. Over that, above 
the blackened heather and ruined buildings 
that stretched far and wide, stood one as sen- 
tinel, while the rest abandoned their vast fight- 
ing-machines and descended into the pit. 

107 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

They were hard at work there far into the 
night, and the towering pillar of dense green 
smoke that rose therefrom could be seen from 
the hills about Merrow, and even, it is said, 
from Banstead and Epsom Downs. 

And while the Martians behind me were 
thus preparing for their next sally, and in front 
of me Humanity gathered for the battle, I 
made my way, with infinite pains and labor, 
from the fire and smoke of burning Weybridge 
towards London. 

I saw an abandoned boat, very small and re- 
mote, drifting down-stream, and, throwing off 
the most of my sodden clothes, I went after 
it, gained it, and so escaped out of that de- 
struction. There were no oars in the boat, but 
I contrived to paddle, as well as my parboiled 
hands would allow, down the river towards 
Halliford and Walton, going very tediously, 
and continually looking behind me, as you may 
well understand. I followed the river, because 
I considered that the water gave me my best 
chance of escape should these giants return. 

The hot water from the Martians' overthrow 
drifted down-stream with me, so that for the 
best part of a mile I could see little of either 
bank. Once, however, I made out a string of 
black figures hurrying across the meadows 
from the direction of Weybridge. Halliford, 

1 08 



WITH THE CURATE 

it seemed, was quite deserted, and several of 
the houses facing the river were on fire. It 
was strange to see the place quite tranquil, 
quite desolate under the hot, blue sky, with the 
smoke and little threads of flame going straight 
up into the heat of the afternoon. Never be- 
fore had I seen houses burning without the 
accompaniment of an inconvenient crowd. A 
little farther on the dry reeds up the bank 
were smoking and glowing, and a line of fire 
inland was marching steadily across a late 
field of hay. 

For a long time I drifted, so painful and 
weary was I after the violence I had been 
through, and so intense the heat upon the 
water. Then my fears got the better of me 
again, and I resumed my paddling. The sun 
scorched my bare back. At last, as the bridge 
at Walton was coming into sight round the 
bend, my fever and faintness overcame my 
fears, and I landed on the Middlesex bank, and 
lay down, deadly sick, amid the long grass. 
I suppose the time was then about four or five 
o'clock. I got up presently, walked perhaps 
half a mile without meeting a soul, and then 
lay down again in the shadow of a hedge. I 
seem to remember talking, wanderingly, to my- 
self during that last spurt. I was also very 
thirsty, and bitterly regretful I had drunk no 

109 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

more water. It is a curious thing that I felt 
angry with my wife ; I cannot account for it, 
but my impotent desire to reach Leatherhead 
worried me excessively. 

I do not clearly remember the arrival of the 
curate, so that I probably dozed. I became 
aware of him as a seated figure in soot-smudged 
shirt-sleeves, and with his upturned, clean- 
shaven face staring at a faint flickering that 
danced over the sky. The sky was what is 
called a mackerel sky — rows and rows of faint 
down-plumes of cloud, just tinted with the 
midsummer sunset. 

I sat up, and at the rustle of my motion he 
looked at me quickly. 

*' Have you any water ?" I asked, abruptly. 

He shook his head. 

" You have been asking for water for the last 
hour," he said. 

For a moment we were silent, taking stock 
of each other. I dare say he found me a 
strange enough figure, naked, save for my 
water-soaked trousers and socks, scalded, and 
my face and shoulders blackened from the 
smoke. His face was a fair weakness, his chin 
retreated, and his hair lay in crisp, almost 
flaxen curls on his low forehead ; his eyes were 
rather large, pale-blue, and blankly staring. He 
spoke abruptly, looking vacantly away from me. 

no 



WITH THE CURATE 

" What does it mean ?" he said. " What do 
these things mean ?" 

I stared at him and made no answer. 

He extended a thin white hand and spoke in 
almost a complaining tone. 

" Why are these things permitted ? What 
sins have we done ? The morning service was 
over, I was walking through the roads to clear 
my brain for the afternoon, and then — fire, 
earthquake, death ! As if it were Sodom and 
Gomorrah I All our work undone, all the 
work — What are these Martians ?" 

" What are we ?" I answered, clearing my 
throat. 

He gripped his knees and turned to look at 
me again. For half a minute, perhaps, he 
stared silently. 

" I was walking through the roads to clear 
my brain," he said. ''And suddenly — fire, 
earthquake, death !" 

He relapsed into silence, with his chin now 
sunken almost to his knees. 

Presently he began waving his hand. 

"All the work — all the Sunday-schools — 
What have we done — what has Weybridge 
done ? Everything gone — everything de- 
stroyed. The church I We rebuilt it only 
three years ago. Gone ! — swept out of exist- 
ence ! Why r 

III 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

Another pause, and he broke out again like 
one demented. 

"The smoke of her burning goeth up for 
ever and ever !" he shouted. 

His eyes flamed, and he pointed a lean finger 
in the direction of Weybridge. 

By this time I was beginning to take his 
measure. The tremendous tragedy in which 
he had been involved — it was evident he was a 
fugitive from Weybridge — had driven him to 
the very verge of his reason. 

"Are we far from Sunbury?" I said, in a 
matter-of-fact tone. 

"What are we to do ?" he asked. " Are these 
creatures everywhere ? Has the earth been 
given over to them ?" 

" Are we far from Sunbury ?" 

" Only this morning I officiated at early cele- 
bration — " 

"Things have changed," I said, quietly. 
"You must keep your head. There is still 
hope." 

" Hope !" 

" Yes. Plentiful hope — for all this destruc- 
tion !" 

I began to explain my view of our position. 
He listened at first, but as I went on the inter- 
est in his eyes changed to their former stare, 
and his regard wandered from me. 

112 



WITH THE CURATE 

" This must be the beginning of the end," he 
said, interrupting me. *' The end ! The great 
and terrible day of the Lord ! When men 
shall call upon the mountains and the rocks 
to fall upon them and hide them — hide them 
from the face of Him that sitteth upon the 
throne !" 

I began to understand the position. I ceased 
my labored reasoning, struggled to my feet, 
and, standing over him, laid my hand on his 
shoulder. 

"Be a man !" said I. ** You are scared out 
of your wits ! What good is religion if it 
collapses at calamity ? Think of what earth- 
quakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have 
done before to men ! Did you think God had 
exempted Weybridge? He is not an insur- 
ance agent, man." 

For a time he sat in blank silence. 

"But how can we escape?" he asked, sud- 
denly. " They are invulnerable, they are piti- 
less." 

" Neither the one nor, perhaps, the other," I 
answered. "And the mightier they are the 
more sane and wary should we be. One of 
them was killed yonder not three hours ago." 

" Killed !" he said, staring about him. " How 
can God's ministers be killed ?" 

" I saw it happen," I proceeded to tell him. 

H 113 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

** We have chanced to come in for the thick of 
it/' said I, "and that is all/' 

" What is that flicker in the sky ?" he asked, 
abruptly. 

I told him it was the heliograph signalling — 
that it was the sign of human help and effort 
in the sky. 

"We are in the midst of it," I said, "quiet 
as it is. That flicker in the sky tells of the 
gathering storm. Yonder, I take it, are the 
Martians, and Londonward, where those hills 
rise about Richmond and Kingston, and the 
trees give cover, earthworks are being thrown 
up and guns are being placed. Presently the 
Martians will be coming this way again." 

And even as I spoke he sprang to his feet 
and stopped me by a gesture. 

" Listen !" he said. 

From beyond the low hills across the water 
came the dull resonance of distant guns and a 
remote, weird crying. Then everything was 
still. A cockchafer came droning over the 
hedge and past us. High in the west the cres- 
cent moon hung faint and pale above the 
smoke of Weybridge and Shepperton and the 
hot, still splendor of the sunset. 

"We had better follow this path," I said, 
"northward." 



XIV 
IN LONDON 

My younger brother was in London when 
the Martians fell at Woking. He was a medi- 
cal student^ working for an imminent exami- 
nation, and he heard nothing of the arrival 
until Saturday morning. The morning papers 
on Saturday contained, in addition to lengthy 
special articles on the planet Mars, on life in 
the planets, and so forth, a brief and vaguely 
worded telegram, all the more striking for its 
brevity. 

The Martians, alarmed by the approach of a 
crowd, had killed a number of people with a 
quick-firing gun, so the story ran. The tele- 
gram concluded with the words : " Formida- 
ble as they seem to be, the Martians have not 
moved from the pit into which they have 
fallen, and, indeed, seem incapable of doing so. 
Probably this is due to the relative strength 
of the earth's gravitational energy." On that 
last text their leader-writer expanded very 
comfortingly. 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

Of course, all the students in the crammer's 
biology class, to which my brother went that 
day, were intensely interested, but there were 
no signs of any unusual excitement in the 
streets. The afternoon papers puffed scraps of 
news under big headlines. They had nothing 
to tell beyond the movements of troops about 
the common, and the burning of the pine- 
woods between Woking and Weybridge, until 
eight. Then the 5/. James's Gazette^ in an 
extra special edition, announced the bare fact 
of the interruption of telegraphic communica- 
tion. This was thought to be due to the fall- 
ing of burning pine-trees across the line. 
Nothing more of the fighting was known that 
night, the night of my drive to Leatherhead 
and back. 

My brother felt no anxiety about us, as he 
knew from the description in the papers that 
the cylinder was a good two miles from my 
house. He made up his mind to run do^n 
that night to me, in order, as he says, to see 
the Things before they were killed. He de- 
spatched a telegram, which never reached me, 
about four o'clock, and spent the evening at a 
music-hall. 

In London, also, on Saturday night there 
was a thunder-storm, and my brother reached 
Waterloo in a cab. On the platform from 

ii6 



IN LONDON 

which the midnight train usually starts he 
learned, after some waiting, that an accident 
prevented trains from reaching Woking that 
night. The nature of the accident he could 
not ascertain ; indeed, the railway authorities 
did not clearly know at that time. There was 
very little excitement in the station, as the 
officials, failing to realize that anything further 
than a breakdown between Byfleet and Wok- 
ing junction had occurred, were running the 
theatre trains, which usually passed through 
Woking, round by Virginia Water or Guild- 
ford. They were busy making the necessary 
arrangements to alter the route of the South- 
ampton and Portsmouth Sunday League ex- 
cursions. A nocturnal newspaper reporter, 
mistaking my brother for the traffic manager, 
whom he resembles to a slight extent, waylaid 
and tried to interview him. Few people, ex- 
cepting the railway officials, connected the 
breakdown with the Martians. 

I have read, in another account of these 
events, that on Sunday morning " all London 
was electrified by the news from Woking.*' 
As a matter of fact, there was nothing to 
justify that very extravagant phrase. Plenty 
of people in London did not hear of the Mar- 
tians until the panic of Monday morning. 
Those who did took some time to realize all 

117 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

that the hastily worded telegrams in the Sun- 
day papers conveyed. The majority of people 
in London do not read Sunday papers. 

The habit of personal security, moreover, is 
so deeply fixed in the Londoner's mind, and 
startling intelligence so much a matter of 
course in the papers, that they could read 
without any personal tremors : " About seven 
o'clock last night the Martians came out of the 
cylinder, and, moving about under an armor 
of metallic shields, have completely wrecked 
Woking station, with the adjacent houses, and 
massacred an entire battalion of the Cardigan 
Regiment. No details are known. Maxims 
have been absolutely useless against their 
armor ; the field-guns have been disabled by 
them. Flying hussars have been galloping 
into Chertsey. The Martians appear to be 
moving slowly towards Chertsey or Windsor. 
Great anxiety prevails in West Surrey, and 
earthworks are being thrown up to check the 
advance Londonwards." That was how the 
Sunday Sun put it, and a clever and remark- 
ably prompt "hand-book" article in the Referee 
compared the affair to a menagerie suddenly 
let loose in a village. 

No one in London knew positively of the 
nature of the armored Martians, and there was 
still a fixed idea that these monsters must be 

ii8 



IN LONDON 

sluggish: "crawling/' "creeping painfully" — 
such expressions occurred in almost all the 
earlier reports. None of the telegrams could 
have been written by an eye-witness of their 
advance. The Sunday papers printed separate 
editions as further news came to hand, some 
even in default of it. But there was practical- 
ly nothing more to tell people until late in the 
afternoon, when the authorities gave the press- 
agencies the news in their possession. It was 
stated that the people of Walton and Wey- 
bridge, and all that district, were pouring 
along the roads Londonward, and that was all. 
My brother went to church at the Foundling 
Hospital in the morning, still in ignorance of 
what had happened on the previous night. 
There he heard allusions made to the invasion^, 
and a special prayer for peace. Coming out, 
he bought a Referee. He became alarmed at 
the news in this, and went again to Waterloo 
station to find out if communication were 
restored. The omnibuses, carriages, cyclists, 
and innumerable pec^ple walking in their best 
clothes seemed scarcely affected by the strange 
intelligence that the news-vendors were dis- 
seminating. People were interested, or, if 
alarmed, alarmed only on account of the local 
residents. At the station he heard for the first 
time that the Windsor and Chertsey lines were. 

119 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

now interrupted. The porters told him that 
several remarkable telegrams had been received 
in the morning from Byfleet and Chertsey sta- 
tions, but that these had abruptly ceased. My 
brother could get very little precise detail out 
of them. "There's fighting going on about 
Weybridge " was the extent of their informa- 
tion. 

The train service was now very much dis- 
organized. Quite a number of people who 
had been expecting friends from places on the 
South -Western network were standing about 
the station. One gray-headed old gentleman 
came and abused the South-Western Company 
bitterly to my brother. "It wants showing 
up/' he said. 

One or two trains came in from Richmond, 
Putney, and Kingston, containing people who 
had gone out for a day's boating, and found 
the locks closed and a feeling of panic in the 
air. A man in a blue -and -white blazer ad- 
dressed my brother, full of strange tidings. 

" There's hosts of people driving into Kings- 
ton in traps and carts and things, with boxes 
of valuables and all that," he said. " They 
come from Molesey and Weybridge and Wal- 
ton, and they say there's been guns heard at 
Chertsey, heavy firing, and that mounted sol- 
diers have told them to get off at once because 

I20 



IN LONDON 

the Martians are coming. We heard guns 
firing at Hampton Court station, but we 
thought it was thunder. What the dickens 
does it all mean ? The Martians can't get out 
of their pit, can they ?" 

My brother could not tell him. 

Afterwards he found that the vague feeling 
of alarm had spread to the clients of the un- 
derground railway, and that the Sunday ex- 
cursionists began to return from all the South- 
Western '' lungs " — Barnes, Wimbledon, Rich- 
mond Park, Kew, and so forth — at unnaturally 
early hours ; but not a soul had anything but 
vague hearsay to tell of. Every one connected 
with the terminus seemed ill-tempered. 

About five o'clock the gathering crowd in 
the station was immensely excited by the 
opening of the line of communication, which 
is almost invariably closed, between the South- 
Eastern and the South -Western stations, and 
the passage of carriage - trucks bearing huge 
guns and carriages crammed with soldiers. 
These were the guns that were brought up 
from Woolwich and Chatham to cover King- 
ston. There was an exchange of pleasan- 
tries : " You'll get eaten !" '' We're the beast- 
tamers !" and so forth. A little while after 
that a squad of police came into the station 
and began to clear the public off the plat- 

121 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

forms, and my brother went out into the street 
again. 

The church bells were ringing for evensong, 
and a squad of Salvation Army lasses came 
singing down Waterloo Road. On the bridge 
a number of loafers were watching a curious 
brown scum that came drifting down the 
stream in patches. The sun was just setting, 
and the Clock Tower and the Houses of Par- 
liament rose against one of the most peaceful 
skies it is possible to imagine, a sky of gold, 
barred with long transverse stripes of reddish- 
purple cloud. There was talk of a floating 
body. One of the men there, a reservist he 
said he was, told my brother he had seen the 
heliograph flickering in the west. 

In Wellington Street my brother met a 
couple of sturdy roughs who had just rushed 
out of Fleet Street with still wet newspapers 
and staring placards. " Dreadful catastrophe !" 
they bawled one to the other down Wellington 
Street. "Fighting at Weybridge ! Full de- 
scription ! Repulse of the Martians ! London 
said to be in danger !*' He had to give three- 
pence for a copy of that paper. 

Then it was, and then only, that he realized 
something of the full power and terror of these 
monsters. He learned that they were not 
merely a handful of small sluggish creatures, 

122 



IN LONDON 

but that they were minds swaying vast me- 
chanical bodies, and that they could move 
swiftly and smite with such power that even 
the mightiest guns could not stand against 
them. 

They were described as "vast spider -like 
machines, nearly a hundred feet high, capable 
of the speed of an express-train, and able to 
shoot out a beam of intense heat/' Masked 
batteries, chiefly of field-guns, had been plant- 
ed in the country about Horsell Common, and 
especially between the Woking district and 
London. Five of the machines had been seen 
moving towards the Thames, and one, by a 
freak of chance, had been destroyed. In the 
other cases the shells had missed, and the bat- 
teries had been at once annihilated by the 
Heat-Rays. Heavy losses of soldiers were men- 
tioned, but the tone of the despatch was opti- 
mistic. 

The Martians had been repulsed ; they were 
not invulnerable. They had retreated to their 
triangle of cylinders again, in the circle about 
Woking. Signallers with heliographs were 
pushing forward upon them from all sides. 
Guns were in rapid transit from Windsor, 
Portsmouth, Aldershot, Woolwich — even from 
the north; among others, long wire - guns of 
ninety -five tons from Woolwich. Altogether 

123 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

one hundred and sixteen were in position or 
being hastily placed, chiefly covering London. 
Never before in England had there been such 
a vast or rapid concentration of military ma- 
terial. 

Any further cylinders that fell, it was hoped, 
could be destroyed at once by high explosives, 
which were being rapidly manufactured and 
distributed. No doubt, ran the report, the 
situation was of the strangest and gravest de- 
scription, but the public was exhorted to avoid 
and discourage panic. No doubt the Martians 
were strange and terrible in the extreme, but 
at the outside there could not be more than 
twenty of them against our millions. 

The authorities had reason to suppose, from 
the size of the cylinders, that at the outside 
there could not be more than five in each 
cylinder — fifteen altogether. And one at least 
was disposed of — perhaps more. The public 
would be fairly warned of the approach of dan- 
ger, and elaborate measures were being taken 
for the protection of the people in the threat- 
ened southwestern suburbs. And so, with re- 
iterated assurances of the safety of London 
and the confidence of the authorities to cope 
with the difficulty, this quasi - proclamation 
closed. 

This was printed in enormous type, on paper 

124 



IN LONDON 

so fresh that it was still wet, and there had been 
no time to add a word of comment. It was curi- 
ous, my brother said, to see how ruthlessly the 
other contents of the paper had been hacked 
and taken out to give this place. 

All down Wellington Street people could be 
seen fluttering out the pink sheets and read- 
ing, and the Strand was suddenly noisy with 
the voices of an army of hawkers following 
these pioneers. Men came scrambling off buses 
to secure copies. Certainly this news excited 
people intensely, whatever their previous apa- 
thy. The shutters of a map-shop in the Strand 
were being taken down, my brother said, and 
a man in his Sunday raiment, lemon - yellow 
gloves even, was visible inside the window, 
hastily fastening maps of Surrey to the 
glass. ' 

Going on along the Strand to Trafalgar 
Square, the paper in his hand, my brother 
saw some of the fugitives from West Surrey. 
There was a man with his wife and two boys 
and some articles of furniture in a cart such 
as green-grocers use. He was driving from 
the direction of Westminster Bridge, and close 
behind him came a hay - wagon with five or 
six respectable-looking people in it, and some 
boxes and bundles. The faces of these people 
were haggard, and their entire appearance con- 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

trasted conspicuously with the Sabbath -best 
appearance of the people on the omnibuses. 
People in fashionable clothing peeped at them 
out of cabs. They stopped at the Square as 
if undecided which way to take, and finally 
turned eastward along the Strand. Some way 
after these came a man in work-day clothes, 
riding one of those old-fashioned tricycles 
with a small front-wheel. He was dirty and 
white in the face. 

My brother turned down towards Victoria, 
and met a number of such people. He had a 
vague idea that he might see something of 
me. He noticed an unusual number of police 
regulating the traffic. Some of the refugees 
were exchanging news with the people on the 
omnibuses. One was professing to have seen 
the Martians. "Boilers on stilts, I tell you, 
striding along like men.'* Most of them were 
excited and animated by their strange ex- 
perience. 

Beyond Victoria the public-houses were do- 
ing a lively trade with these arrivals. At all 
the street corners groups of people were read- 
ing papers, talking excitedly, or staring at 
these unusual Sunday visitors. They seemed 
to increase as night drew on, until at last 
the roads, my brother said, were like Epsom 
High Street on a Derby Day. My brother 

126 



IN LONDON 

addressed several of these fugitives and got 
unsatisfactory answers from most. 

None of them could tell him any news of 
Woking except one man, who assured him that 
Woking had been entirely destroyed on the 
previous night. 

" I come from Byfleet/' he said ; " a man on 
a bicycle came through the place in the early 
morning, and ran from door to door warning 
us to come away. Then came soldiers. We 
^ent out to look, and there were clouds of 
smoke to the south — nothing but smoke, and 
not a soul coming that way. Then we heard 
the guns at Chertsey, and folks coming from 
Weybridge. So I've locked up my house and 
come on." 

At that time there was a strong feeling in 
the streets that the authorities were to blame 
for their incapacity to dispose of the invaders 
without all this inconvenience. 

About eight o'clock a noise of heavy firing 
was distinctly audible all over the south of 
London. My brother could not hear it for the 
traffic in the main streets, but by striking 
through the quiet back-streets to the river he 
was able to distinguish it quite plainly. 

He walked back from Westminster to his 
apartments, near Regent's Park, about two. 
He was now very anxious on my account, and 

127 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

disturbed at the evident magnitude of the 
trouble. His mind was inclined to run, even 
as mine had run on Saturday, on military de- 
tails. He thought of all those silent, expectant 
guns, of the suddenly nomadic country-side ; 
he tried to imagine " boilers on stilts " a hun- 
dred feet high. 

There were one or two cart-loads of refugees 
passing along Oxford Street, and several in 
the Marylebone Road, but so slowly was the 
news spreading that Regent Street and Port- 
land Road were full of their usual Sunday- 
night promenaders, albeit they talked in groups, 
and along the edge of Regent's Park there 
were as many silent couples ^'walking out'* 
together under the scattered gas-lamps as ever 
there had been. The night was warm and 
still, and a little oppressive ; the sound of guns 
continued intermittently, and after midnight 
there seemed to be sheet - lightning in the 
south. 

He read and reread the paper, fearing the 
worst had happened to me. He was restless, 
and after supper prowled out again aimlessly. 
He returned and tried to divert — but in vain 
— his attention by his examination notes. He 
went to bed a little after midnight, and he was 
awakened out of some lurid dreams in the small 
hours of Monday by the sound of door-knock- 



IN LONDON 

ers, feet running in the street, distant drum- 
ming, and a clamor of bells. Red reflections 
danced on the ceiling. For a moment he lay 
astonished, wondering whether day had come 
or the world had gone mad. Then he jumped 
out of bed and ran to the window. 

His room was an attic, and as he thrust his 
head out, up and down the street there were a 
dozen echoes to the noise of his window-sash, 
and heads in every kind of night disarray ap- 
peared. Inquiries were being shouted. '^They 
are coming !" bawled a policeman, hammering 
at the door ; *^the Martians are coming !'* and 
hurried to the next door. 

The noise of drumming and trumpeting 
came from the Albany Street Barracks, and 
every church within earshot was hard at work 
killing sleep with a vehement disorderly toc- 
sin. There was a noise of doors opening, and 
window after window in the houses opposite 
flashed from darkness into yellow illumination. 

Up the street came galloping a closed car- 
riage, bursting abruptly into noise at the cor- 
ner, rising to a clattering climax under the 
window, and dying away slowly in the distance. 
Close on the rear of this came a couple of cabs, 
the forerunners of a long procession of flying 
vehicles, going for the most part to Chalk 
Farm station, where the North- Western special 
I 129 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

trains were loading up, instead of coming down 
the gradient into Euston. 

For a long time my brother stared out of 
the window in blank astonishment, watching 
the policemen hammering at door after door, 
and delivering their incomprehensible mes- 
sage. Then the door behind him opened, and 
the man who lodged across the landing came 
in, dressed only in shirt, trousers, and slippers, 
his braces loose about his waist, his hair dis- 
ordered from his pillow. 

"What the devil is it?" he asked. ''A fire? 
What a devil of a row !" 

They both craned their heads out of the 
window, straining to hear what the policemen 
were shouting. People were coming out of 
the side-streets, and standing in groups at the 
corners talking. 

" What the devil is it all about ?" said my 
brother's fellow-lodger. 

My brother answered him vaguely and be- 
gan to dress, running with each garment to 
the window in order to miss nothing of the 
growing excitement of the streets. And pres- 
ently men selling unnaturally early newspa- 
pers came bawling into the street : 

" London in danger of suffocation ! The 
Kingston and Richmond defences forced! Fear- 
ful massacres in the Thames Valley !" 

130 



IN LONDON 

And all about him — in the rooms below, 
in the houses on each side and across the 
road, and behind in the Park Terraces and 
in the hundred other streets of that part of 
Marylebone, and the Westbourne Park dis- 
trict and St. Pancras, and westward and 
northward in Kilburn and St. John^s Wood 
and Hampstead, and eastward in Shoreditch 
and Highbury and Haggerston and Hox- 
ton, and, indeed, through all the vastness of 
London from Ealing to East Ham — people 
were rubbing their eyes, and opening windows 
to stare out and ask aimless questions, and 
dressing hastily as the first breath of the com- 
ing storm of Fear blew through the streets. 
It was the dawn of the great panic. London, 
which had gone to bed on Sunday night stupid 
and inert, was awakened in the small hours of 
Monday morning to a vivid sense of danger. 

Unable from his window to learn what was 
happening, my brother went down and out 
into the street, just as the sky between the 
parapets of the houses grew pink with the 
early dawn. The flying people on foot and in 
vehicles grew more numerous every moment. 
** Black Smoke !" he heard people crying, and 
again " Black Smoke !" The contagion of such 
a unanimous fear was inevitable. As my 
brother hesitated on the door-step, he saw an- 

131 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

other news-vender approaching him, and got a 
copy forthwith. The man was running away 
with the rest, and selling his papers for a shil- 
ling each as he ran — a grotesque mingling of 
profit and panic. 

And from this paper my brother read that 
catastrophic despatch of the Commander-in- 
Chief : 

"The Martians are able to discharge enormous 
clouds of a black and poisonous vapor by means of 
rockets. They have smothered our batteries, de- 
stroyed Richmond, Kingston, and Wimbledon, and 
are advancing slowly towards London, destroying 
everything on the way. It is impossible to stop them. 
There is no safety from the Black Smoke but in in- 
stant flight." 

That was all, but it was enough. The whole 
population of the great six - million city was 
stirring, slipping, running ; presently it would 
be pouring e7i masse northward. 

" Black Smoke !" the voices cried. " Fire !" 
The bells of the neighboring church made 
a jangling tumult, a cart carelessly driven 
smashed, amid shrieks and curses, against the 
water - trough up the street. Sickly yellow 
light went to and fro in the houses, and some 
of the passing cabs flaunted unextinguished 
lamps. And overhead the dawn was growing 
brighter, clear and steady and calm. 

132 



IN LONDON 

He heard footsteps ninning to and fro in 
the rooms, and up and down stairs behind him. 
His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped 
in dressing-gown and shawl ; her husband fol- 
lowed ejaculating. 

As my brother began to realize the import 
of all these things, he turned hastily to his own 
room, put all his available money — some ten 
pounds altogether — into his pockets, and went 
out again into the streets. 



XV 

WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN SURREY 

It was while the curate had sat and talked 
so wildly to me under the hedge in the flat 
meadows near Halliford, and while my brother 
was watching the fugitives stream over West- 
minster Bridge, that the Martians had resumed 
the offensive. So far as one can ascertain from 
the conflicting accounts that have been put 
forth, the majority of them remained busied 
with preparations in the Horsell pit until 
nine that night, hurrying on some opera- 
tion that disengaged huge volumes of green 
smoke. 

But three certainly came out about eight 
o'clock, and, advancing slowly and cautiously, 
made their way through Byfleet and Pyrford 
towards Ripley and Weybridge, and so came in 
sight of the expectant batteries against the set- 
ting sun. These Martians did not advance in 
a body, but in a line, each perhaps a mile and 
a half from his nearest fellow. They commu- 
nicated with one another by means of siren- 

134 



IN SURREY 

like howls, running up and down the scale from 
one note to another. 

It was this howling and the firing of the 
guns at Ripley and St. George's Hill that we 
had heard at Upper Halliford. The Ripley 
gunners, unseasoned artillery volunteers who 
ought never to have been placed in such a 
position, fired one wild, premature, ineffectual 
volley, and bolted on horse and foot through 
the deserted village, and the Martian walked 
over their guns serenely, without using his 
Heat-Ray, stepped gingerly among them, 
passed in front of them, and so came unex- 
pectedly upon the guns in Painshill Park, 
which he destroyed. 

The St. George's Hill men, however, were 
better led or of a better mettle. Hidden by a 
pine -wood, as they were, they seem to have 
been quite unexpected by the Martian nearest 
to them. They laid their guns as deliberately 
as if they had been on parade, and fired at 
about a thousand yards range. 

The shells flashed all round the Martian, and 
he was seen to advance a few paces, stagger, 
and go down. Everybody yelled together, and 
the guns were reloaded in frantic haste. The 
overthrown Martian set up a prolonged ulula- 
tion, and immediately a second glittering giant, 
answering him, appeared over the trees to the 

135 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

south. It would seem that a leg of the tripod 
had been smashed by one of the shells. The 
whole of the second volley flew wide of the 
Martian on the ground, and, simultaneously, 
both his companions brought their Heat-Rays 
to bear on the battery. The ammunition blew 
up, the pine-trees all about the guns flashed 
into fire, and only one or two of the men who 
were already running over the crest of the hill 
escaped. 

After this it would seem that the three took 
counsel together and halted, and the scouts 
who were watching them report that they 
remained absolutely stationary for the next 
half-hour. The Martian who had been over- 
thrown crawled tediously out of his hood, a 
small brown figure, oddly suggestive from that 
distance of a speck of blight, and apparently 
engaged in the repair of his support. About 
nine he had finished, for his cowl was then 
seen above the trees again. 

It was a few minutes past nine that night 
when these three sentinels were joined by four 
other Martians, each carrying a thick black 
tube. A similar tube was handed to each of 
the three, and the seven proceeded to distribute 
themselves at equal distances along a curved 
line between St. George's Hill, Weybridge, and 
the village of Send, southwest *of Ripley. 

136 



IN SURREY 

A dozen rockets sprang out of the hills be- 
fore them so soon as they began to move, and 
warned the waiting batteries about Ditton and 
Esher. At the same time four of their fighting 
machines, similarly armed with tubes, crossed 
the river, and two of them, black against the 
western sky, came into sight of myself and 
the curate as we hurried wearily and painfully 
along the road that runs northward out of 
Halliford. They moved, as it seemed to us, 
upon a cloud, for a milky mist covered the 
fields and rose to a third of their height. 

At this sight the curate cried faintly in his 
throat, and began running ; but I knew it was 
no good running from a Martian, and I turned 
aside and crawled through dewy nettles and 
brambles into the broad ditch by the side of 
the road. He looked back, saw what I was 
doing, and turned to join me. 

The two Martians halted, the nearer to us 
standing and facing Sunbury, the remoter being 
a gray indistinctness towards the evening star, 
away towards Staines. 

The occasional howling of the Martians had 
ceased ; they took up their positions in the 
huge crescent about their cylinders in absolute 
silence. It was a crescent with twelve miles 
between its horns. Never since the devising 
of gunpowder was the beginning of a battle so 

137 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

still. To us and to an observer about Ripley 
it would have had preciselj^- the same effect — 
the Martians seemed in solitary possession of 
the darkling night, lit only as it was by the 
slender moon, the stars, the after-glow of the 
daylight, and the ruddy glare from St. George's 
Hill and the woods of Painshill. 

But facing that crescent everywhere — at 
Staines, Hounslow, Ditton, Esher, Ockham, 
behind hills and woods south of the river, and 
across the flat grass meadows to the north of 
it, wherever a cluster of trees or village houses 
gave sufficient cover — the guns were waiting. 
The signal rockets burst and rained their 
sparks through the night and vanished, and 
the spirit of all those watching batteries rose 
to a tense expectation. The Martians had but 
to advance into the line of fire, and instantly 
those motionless black forms of men, those 
guns glittering so darkly in the early night, 
would explode into a thunderous fury of battle. 

No doubt the thought that was uppermost 
in a thousand of those vigilant minds, even as 
it was uppermost in mine, was the riddle — how 
much they understood of us. Did they grasp 
that we in our millions were organized, disci- 
plined, working together ? Or did they inter- 
pret our spurts of fire, the sudden stinging of 
our shells, our steady investment of their en- 

138 



IN SURREY 

campment, as we should the furious unanimity 
of onslaught in a disturbed hive of bees ? Did 
they dream they might exterminate us? (At 
that time no one knew what food they needed.) 
A hundred such questions struggled together 
in my mind as I watched that vast sentinel 
shape. And in the back of my mind was the 
sense of all the huge unknown and hidden 
forces Londonward. Had they prepared pit- 
falls? Were the powder-mills at Hounslow 
ready as a snare ? Would the Londoners have 
the heart and courage to make a greater Mos- 
cow of their mighty province of houses ? 

Then, after an interminable time, as it seemed 
to us, crouching and peering through the hedge, 
came a sound like the distant concussion of a 
gun. Another nearer, and then another. And 
then the Martian beside us raised his tube on 
high and discharged it, gunwise, with a heavy 
report that made the ground heave. The Mar- 
tian towards Staines answered him. There was 
no flash, no smoke, simply that loaded detona- 
tion. 

I was so excited by these heavy minute-guns 
following one another that I so far forgot my 
personal safety and my scalded hands as to 
clamber up into the hedge and stare towards 
Sunbury. As I did so a second report fol- 
lowed, and a big projectile hurtled overhead 

139 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

towards Hounslow. I expected at least to see 
smoke or fire, or some such evidence of its 
work. But all I saw was the deep -blue sky 
above, with one solitary star, and the white 
mist spreading wide and low beneath. And 
there had been no crash, no answering explo- 
sion. The silence was restored ; the minute 
lengthened to three. 

" What has happened ?" said the curate, stand- 
ing up beside me. 

" Heaven knows !" said I. 

A bat flickered by and vanished. A distant 
tumult of shouting began and ceased. I looked 
again at the Martian, and saw he was now 
moving eastward along the river-bank, with a 
swift, rolling motion. 

Every moment I expected the fire of some 
hidden battery to spring upon him ; but the 
evening calm was unbroken. The figure of 
the Martian grew smaller as he receded, and 
presently the mist and the gathering night had 
swallowed him up. By a common impulse we 
clambered higher. Towards Sunbury was a 
dark appearance, as though a conical hill had 
suddenly come into being there, hiding our 
view of the farther country ; and then, remoter 
across the river, over Walton, we saw another 
such summit. These hill-like forms grew lower 
and broader even as we stared. 

140 



IN SURREY 

Moved by a sudden thought, I looked north- 
ward, and there I perceived a third of these 
cloudy black kopjes had arisen. 

Everything had suddenly become very stilL 
Far away to the southeast, marking the quiet, 
we heard the Martians hooting to one another, 
and then the air quivered again with the dis- 
tant thud of their guns. But the earthly ar- 
tillery made no reply. 

Now at the time we could not understand 
these things, but later I was to learn the 
meaning of these ominous kopjes that gath- 
ered in the twilight. Each of the Martians, 
standing in the great crescent I have described, 
had discharged, by means of the gun-like tube 
he carried, a huge canister over whatever hill, 
copse, cluster of houses, or other possible 
cover for guns, chanced to be in front of him. 
Some fired only one of these, some two — as in 
the case of the one we had seen ; the one at 
Ripley is said to have discharged no fewer 
than five at that time. These canisters 
smashed on striking the ground — they did not 
explode — and incontinently disengaged an 
enormous volume of a heavy, inky vapor, coil- 
ing and pouring upward in a huge and ebony 
cumulus cloud, a gaseous hill that sank and 
spread itself slowly over the surrounding coun- 
try. And the touch of that vapor, the inhal- 

141 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ing of its pungent wisps, was death to all that 
breathes. 

It was heavy, this vapor, heavier than the 
densest smoke, so that, after the first tumultu- 
ous uprush and outflow of its impact, it sank 
down through the air and poured over the 
ground in a manner rather liquid than gas- 
eous, abandoning the hills, and streaming into 
the valleys and ditches and water - courses, 
even as I have heard the carbonic - acid gas 
that pours from volcanic clefts is wont to do. 
And where it came upon water some chemical 
action occurred, and the surface would be in- 
stantly covered with a powdery scum that 
sank slowly and made way for more. The 
scum was absolutely insoluble, and it is a 
strange thing, seeing the instant effect of the 
gas, that one could drink without hurt the 
water from which it had been strained. The 
vapor did not diffuse as a true gas would do. 
It hung together in banks, flowing sluggishly 
down the slope of the land and driving re- 
luctantly before the wind, and very slowly it 
combined with the mist and moisture of the 
air, and sank to the earth in the form of dust. 
Save that an unknown element giving a group 
of four lines in the blue of the spectrum is 
concerned, we are still entirely ignorant of the 
nature of this substance. 

142 



IN SURREY 

Once the tumultuous upheaval of its disper- 
sion was over, the black smoke clung so closely 
to the ground, even before its precipitation, 
that, fifty feet up in the air, on the roofs and 
upper stories of high houses, and on great trees, 
there was a chance of escaping its poison alto- 
gether, as was proved even that night at Street 
Cobham and Ditton. 

The man who escaped at the former place 
tells a wonderful story of the strangeness of 
its coiling flow, and how he looked down from 
the church spire and saw the houses of the vil- 
lage rising like ghosts out of its inky nothing- 
ness. For a day and a half he remained there, 
weary, starving and sun - scorched, the earth 
under the blue sky and against the prospect of 
the distant hills a velvet black expanse, with 
red roofs, green trees, and, later, black-veiled 
shrubs and gates, barns, out-houses, and walls, 
rising here and there into the sunlight. 

But that was at Street Cobham, where the 
black vapor was allowed to remain until it 
sank of its own accord into the ground. As a 
rule, the Martians, when it had served its pur- 
pose, cleared the air of it again by wading into 
it and directing a jet of steam upon it. 

This they did with the vapor-banks near us, 
as we saw in the starlight from the window of 
a deserted house at Upper Halliford, whither 

143 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

we had returned. From there we could see 
the search-lights on Richmond Hill and Kings- 
ton Hill going to and fro, and about eleven 
the window rattled, and we heard the sound of 
the huge siege guns that had been put in po- 
sition there. These continued intermittently 
for the space of a quarter of an hour, sending 
chance shots at the invisible Martians at 
Hampton and Ditton, and then the pale beams 
of the electric light vanished, and were replaced 
by a bright red glow. 

Then the fourth cylinder fell — a brilliant 
green meteor — as I learned afterwards, in 
Bushey Park. Before the guns on the Rich- 
mond and Kingston line of hills began, there 
was a fitful cannonade far away in the south- 
west, due, I believe, to guns being fired hap- 
hazard before the black vapor could over- 
whelm the gunners. 

So, setting about it as methodically as men 
might smoke out a wasps' nest, the Martians 
spread this strange stifling vapor over the 
Londonward country. The horns of the cres- 
cent slowly spread apart, until at last they 
formed a line from Hanwell to Coombe and 
Maiden. All night through their destructive 
tubes advanced. Never once, after the Mar- 
tian at St. George's Hill was brought down, 
did they give the artillery the ghost of a chance 

144 



IN SURREY 

against them. Wherever there was a possi- 
bility of guns being laid for them unseen, a 
fresh canister of the black vapor was dis- 
charged, and where the guns were openly dis- 
played the Heat-Ray was brought to bear. 

By midnight the blazing trees along the 
slopes of Richmond Park and the glare of 
Kingston Hill threw their light upon a net- 
work of black smoke, blotting out the whole 
Valley of the Thames and extending as far as 
the eye could reach. And through this two 
Martians slowly waded, and turned their his- 
sing steam-jets this way and that. 

The Martians were sparing of the Heat-Ray 
that night, either because they had but a lim- 
ited supply of material for its production or 
because they did not wish to destroy the coun- 
try, but only to crush and overawe the opposi- 
tion they had aroused. In the latter aim they 
certainly succeeded. Sunday night was the 
end of the organized opposition to their move- 
ments. After that no body of men could stand 
against them, so hopeless was the enterprise. 
Even the crews of the torpedo-boats and de- 
stroyers that had brought their quick-firers 
up the Thames refused to stop, mutinied, and 
went down again. The only offensive opera- 
tion men ventured upon after that night was 
the preparation of mines and pitfalls, and 
K 145 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

even in that men's energies were frantic and 
spasmodic. 

One has to imagine, as well as one may, the 
fate of those batteries towards Esher, waiting 
so tensely in the twilight. Survivors there 
were none. One may picture the orderly ex- 
pectation, the officers alert and watchful, the 
gunners ready, the ammunition piled to hand, 
the limber gunners with their horses and 
wagons, the groups of civilian spectators stand- 
ing as near as they were permitted, the even- 
ing stillness, the ambulances and hospital tents, 
with the burned and wounded from Weybridge ; 
then the dull resonance of the shots the Mar- 
tians fired, and the clumsy projectile whirling 
over the trees and houses and smashing amid 
the neighboring fields. 

One may picture, too, the sudden shifting of 
the attention, the swiftly spreading coils and 
bellyings of that blackness advancing head- 
long, towering heavenward, turning the twi- 
light to a palpable darkness, a strange and 
horrible antagonist of vapor striding upon its 
victims, men and horses near it seen dimly, 
running, shrieking, falling headlong, shouts of 
dismay, the guns suddenly abandoned, men 
choking and writhing on the ground, and the 
swift broadening - out of the opaque cone of 
smoke. And then night and extinction — noth- 

146 



IN SURREY 

ing but a silent mass of impenetrable vapor 
hiding its dead. 

Before dawn the black vapor was pouring 
through the streets of Richmond, and the dis- 
integrating organism of government was, with 
a last expiring effort, rousine the population of 
London to the necessity of &ighL 



XVI 

THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

So you understand the roaring wave of fear 
that swept through the greatest city in the 
world just as Monday was dawning — the stream 
of flight rising swiftly to a torrent, lashing in 
a foaming tumult round the railway stations, 
banked up into a horrible struggle about the 
shipping in the Thames, and hurrying by 
every available channel northward and east- 
ward. By ten o^clock the police organization, 
and by mid-day even the railway organizations, 
were losing coherency, losing shape and effi- 
ciency, guttering, softening, running at last in 
that swift liquefaction of the social body. 

All the railway lines north of the Thames 
and the South-Eastern people at Cannon Street 
had been warned by midnight on Sunday, and 
trains were being filled. People were fighting 
savagely for standing-room in the carriages 
even at two o'clock. By three, people were 
being trampled and crushed even in Bishops- 
gate Street, a couple of hundred yards, or 

148 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

more, from Liverpool Street station ; revolvers 
were fired, people stabbed, and the policemen 
who had been sent to direct the traffic, ex- 
hausted and infuriated, were breaking the 
heads of the people they were called out to 
protect. 

And as the day advanced, and the engine- 
drivers and stokers refused to return to Lon- 
don, the pressure of the flight drove the people 
in an ever - thickening multitude away from 
the stations and along the northward-running 
roads. By mid-day a Martian had been seen 
at Barnes, and a cloud of slowly sinking black 
vapor drove along the Thames and across the 
flats of Lambeth, cutting off all escape over 
the bridges in its sluggish advance. Another 
bank drove over Ealing, and surrounded a 
little island of survivors on Castle Hill, alive, 
but unable to escape. 

After a fruitless struggle to get aboard a 
North-Western train at Chalk Farm — the en- 
gines of the trains that had loaded in the goods 
yard there ploughed through shrieking people, 
and a dozen stalwart men fought to keep the 
crowd from crushing the driver against his 
furnace — my brother emerged upon the Chalk 
Farm road, dodged across through a hurrying 
swarm of vehicles, and had the luck to be fore- 
most in the sack of a cycle shop. The front 

149 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

tire of the machine he got was punctured in 
dragging it through the window, but he got 
up and oflf, notwithstanding, with no further 
injury than a cut wrist. The steep foot of 
. Haverstock Hill was impassable owing to sev- 
eral overturned horses, and my brother struck 
into Belsize Road. 

So he got out of the fury of the panic, and, 
skirting the Edgware Road, reached Edgware 
about seven, fasting and wearied, but well 
ahead of the crowd. Along the road people 
were standing in the roadway, curious, wonder- 
ing. He was passed by a number of cyclists, 
some horsemen, and two motor-cars. A mile 
from Edgware the rim of the wheel broke, and 
the machine became unridable. He left it by 
the road-side and trudged through the village. 
There were shops half opened in the main 
street of the place, and people crowded on the 
pavement and in the doorways and windows, 
staring astonished at this extraordinary pro- 
cession of fugitives that was beginning. He 
succeeded in getting some food at an inn. 

For a time he remained in Edgware, stood 
staring on the front path, not knowing what 
next to do. The flying people increased in 
number. Many of them, like my brother, 
seemed inclined to stop in the place. There 
was no fresh news of the invaders from Mars. 

ISO 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

At that time the road was crowded, but as 
yet far from congested. Most of the fugi- 
tives at that hour were mounted on cycles, but 
there were soon motor-cars, hansom cabs, and 
carriages hurrying along, and the dust hung 
in heavy clouds along the road to St. Albans. 

It was perhaps a vague idea of making his 
way to Chelmsford, where some friends of his 
lived, that at last induced my brother to strike 
into a quiet lane running eastward. Presently 
he came upon a stile, and, crossing it, followed 
a foot-path northeastward. He passed near 
several farm - houses and some little places 
whose names he did not learn. He saw few 
fugitives until, in a grass lane towards High 
Barnet, he happened upon the two ladies who 
became his fellow-travellers. He came upon 
them just in time to save them. 

He heard their screams, and, hurrying round 
the corner, saw a couple of men struggling to 
drag them out of the little pony-chaise in which 
they had been driving, while a third with diffi- 
culty held the frightened pony's head. One of 
the ladies, a short woman dressed in white, was 
simply screaming ; the other, a dark, slender 
figure, slashed at the man who gripped her 
arm with a whip she held in her disengaged 
hand. 

My brother immediately grasped the situa- 

151 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

tion, shouted, and hurried towards the struggle. 
One of the men desisted and turned towards 
him, and my brother, realizing from his antag- 
onist's face that a fight was unavoidable, and 
being an expert boxer, went into him forth- 
with and sent him down against the wheel of 
the chaise. 

It was no time for pugilistic chivalry, and 
my brother laid him quiet with a kick, and 
gripped the collar of the man who pulled at 
the slender lady's arm. He heard the clatter 
of hoofs, the whip stung across his face, a third 
antagonist struck him between the eyes, and 
the man he held wrenched himself free and 
made off down the lane in the direction from 
which he had come. 

Partly stunned, he found himself facing the 
man who had held the horse's head, and be- 
came aware of the chaise receding from him 
down the lane, swaying from side to side, and 
with the women in it looking back. The man 
before him, a burly rough, tried to close, and 
he stopped him with a blow in the face. Then, 
realizing that he was deserted, he dodged round 
and made off down the lane after the chaise, 
with the sturdy man close behind him, and the 
fugitive, who had turned now, following re- 
motely. 

Suddenly he stumbled and fell ; his imme- 

152 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

diate pursuer went headlong, and he rose to his 
feet to find himself with a couple of antago- 
nists again. He would have had little chance 
against them had not the slender lady very 
pluckily pulled up and returned to his help. 
It seems she had had a revolver all this time, 
but it had been under the seat when she and 
her companion were attacked. She fired at 
six yards' distance, narrowly missing my broth- 
er. The less courageous of the robbers made 
off, and his companion followed him, cursing his 
cowardice. They both stopped in sight down 
the lane where the third man lay insensible. 

" Take this !" said the slender lady, and she 
gave my brother her revolver. 

" Go back to the chaise," said my brother, 
wiping the blood from his split lip. 

She turned without a word — they were both 
panting — and they went back to where the 
lady in white struggled to hold back the fright- 
ened pony. 

The robbers had evidently had enough of it. 
When my brother looked again they were re- 
treating. 

" I'll sit here," said my brother, " if I may ;" 
and he got upon the empty front seat. The 
lady looked over her shoulder. 

"Give me the reins," she said, and laid the 
whip along the pony's side. In another mo- 

153 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ment a bend in the road hid the three men 
from my brother's eyes. 

So, quite unexpectedly, my brother found 
himself, panting, with a cut mouth, a bruised 
jaw, and blood-stained knuckles, driving along 
an unknown lane with these two women. 

He learned they were the wife and the young- 
er sister of a surgeon living at Stanmore, who 
had come in the small hours from a dangerous 
case at Pinner, and heard at some railway 
station on his way of the Martian advance. 
He had hurried home, roused the women — 
their servant had left them two days before — 
packed some provisions, put his revolver under 
the seat — luckily for my brother — and told 
them to drive on to Edgware, with the idea of 
getting a train there. He stopped behind to 
tell the neighbors. He would overtake them, 
he said, at about half-past four in the morning, 
and now it was nearly nine and they had seen 
nothing of him since. They could not stop in 
Edgware because of the growing traffic through 
the place, and so they had come into this side 
lane. 

That was the story they told my brother in 
fragments when presently they stopped again, 
nearer to New Barnet. He promised to stay 
with them, at least until they could determine 
what to do, or until the missing man arrived, 

154 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

and professed to be an expert shot with the 
revolver — a weapon strange to him — in order 
to give them confidence. 

They made a sort of encampment by the 
wayside, and the pony became happy in the 
hedge. He told them of his own escape out of 
London, and all that he knew of these Mar- 
tians and their ways. The sun crept higher 
in the sky, and after a time their talk died out 
and gave place to an uneasy state of anticipa- 
tion. Several wayfarers came along the lane, 
and of these my brother gathered such news 
as he could. Every broken answer he had 
deepened his impression of the great disaster 
that had come on humanity, deepened his per- 
suasion of the immediate necessity for prose- 
cuting this flight. He urged the matter upon 
them. 

" We have money," said the slender woman, 
and hesitated. 

Her eyes met my brother's, and her hesita- 
tion ended. 

" So have I," said my brother. 

She explained that they had as much as 
thirty pounds in gold, besides a five - pound 
note, and suggested that with that they might 
get upon a train at St. Albans or New Barnet. 
My brother thought that was hopeless, seeing 
the fury of the Londoners to crowd upon the 

I5S 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

trains, and broached his own idea of striking 
across Essex towards Harwich and thence es- 
caping from the country altogether. 

Mrs. Elphinstone — that was the name of the 
woman in white — would listen to no reasoning, 
and kept calling upon "George"; but her sis- 
ter-in-law was astonishingly quiet and delib- 
erate, and at last agreed to my brother's sug- 
gestion. So they went on towards Barnet, 
designing to cross the Great North Road, my 
brother leading the pony, to save it as much 
as possible. 

As the sun crept up the sky the day became 
excessively hot, and under foot a thick, whitish 
sand grew burning and blinding, so that they 
travelled only very slowly. The hedges were 
gray with dust. And as they advanced tow- 
ards Barnet a tumultuous murmuring grew 
stronger. 

They began to meet more people. For the 
most part these were staring before them, 
murmuring indistinct questions, jaded, hag- 
gard, unclean. One man in evening dress 
passed them on foot, his eyes on the ground. 
They heard his voice, and, looking back at him, 
saw one hand clutched in his hair and the 
other beating invisible things. His paroxysm 
of rage over, he went on his way without once 
looking back. 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

As my brother's party went on towards the 
cross-roads to the south of Barnet they saw a 
woman approaching the road across some fields 
on their left, carrying a child and with two 
other children ; and then a man in dirty black, 
with a thick stick in one hand and a small 
portmanteau in the other, passed. Then round 
the corner of the lane, from between the villas 
that guarded it at its confluence with the high- 
road, came a little cart drawn by a sweating 
black pony and driven by a sallow youth in a 
bowler hat, gray with dust. There were three 
girls, like East End factory girls, and a couple 
of little children crowded in the cart. 

" This *11 tike us rahnd Edgware ?" asked the 
driver, wild-eyed, white-faced ; and when my 
brother told him it would if he turned to the 
left, he whipped up at once without the for- 
mality of thanks. 

My brother noticed a pale gray smoke or 
haze rising among the houses in front of them, 
and veiling the white fagade of a terrace be- 
yond the road that appeared between the backs 
of the villas. Mrs. Elphinstone suddenly cried 
out at a number of tongues of smoky red flame 
leaping up above the houses in front of them 
against the hot, blue sky. The tumultuous 
noise resolved itself now into the disorderly 
mingling of many voices, the gride of many 

157 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

wheels, the creaking of wagons, and the stac- 
cato of hoofs. The lane came round sharply, 
not fifty yards from the cross-roads. 

**Good heavens!" cried Mrs. Elphinstone. 
" What is this you are driving us into ?" 

My brother stopped. 

For the main road was a boiling stream of 
people, a torrent of human beings rushing 
northward, one pressing on another. A great 
bank of dust, white and luminous in the blaze 
of the sun, made everything within twenty 
feet of the ground gray and indistinct, and 
was perpetually renewed by the hurrying feet 
of a dense crowd of horses and of men and 
women on foot, and by the wheels of vehicles 
of every description. 

"Way!" my brother heard voices crying. 
" Make way !" 

It was like riding into the smoke of a fire 
to approach the meeting-point of the lane and 
road ; the crowd roared like a fire, and the 
dust was hot and pungent. And, indeed, a 
little way up the road a villa was burning and 
sending rolling masses of black smoke across 
the road to add to the confusion. 

Two men came past them. Then a dirty 
woman, carrying a heavy bundle and weep- 
ing. A lost retriever dog, with hanging 
tongue, circled dubiously round them, scared 

158 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

and wretched, and fled at my brother's 
threat. 

So much as they could see of the road Lon- 
donward between the houses to the right was 
a tumultuous stream of dirty, hurrying people, 
pent in between the villas on either side ; the 
black heads, the crowded forms, grew into dis- 
tinctness as they rushed towards the corner, 
hurried past, and merged their individuality 
again in a receding multitude that was swal- 
lowed up at last in a cloud of dust. 

" Gk) on ! Go on !" cried the voices. '' Way ! 
Way I" 

One man's hands pressed on the back of 
another. My brother stood at the pony's head. 
Irresistibly attracted, he advanced slowly, pace 
by pace, down the lane. 

Edgware had been a scene of confusion, 
Chalk Farm a riotous tumult, but this was a 
whole population in movement. It is hard to 
imagine that host. It had no character of its 
own. The figures poured out past the corner, 
and receded with their backs to the group in 
the lane. Along the margin came those who 
were on foot, threatened by the wheels, stum- 
bling in the ditches, blundering into one an- 
other. 

The carts and carriages crowded close upon 
one another, making little way for those swifter 

159 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

and more impatient vehicles that darted for- 
ward every now and then when an opportunity 
showed itself of doing so, sending the people 
scattering against the fences and gates of the 
villas. 

" Push on !" was the cry. '' Push on ! They 
are coming !'* 

In one cart stood a blind man in the uniform 
of the Salvation Army, gesticulating with his 
crooked fingers and bawling, " Eternity ! eter- 
nity !" His voice was hoarse and very loud, so 
that my brother could hear him long after he 
was lost to sight in the southward dust. Some 
of the people who crowded in the carts whipped 
stupidly at their horses and quarrelled with 
other drivers ; some sat motionless, staring at 
nothing with miserable eyes ; some gnawed 
their hands with thirst, or lay prostrate in the 
bottoms of their conveyances. The horses* 
bits were covered with foam, their eyes blood- 
shot. 

There were cabs, carriages, shop-carts, wag- 
ons, beyond counting ; a mail - cart, a road- 
cleaner's cart marked " Vestry of St. Pancras,'* 
a huge timber -wagon crowded with roughs. 
A brewer's dray rumbled by with its two near 
wheels splashed with fresh blood. 

" Clear the way !" cried the voices. " Clear 
the way !" 

i6o 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

"Eter-nity! eter-nity!'* came echoing up 
the road. 

There were sad, haggard women tramping 
by, well dressed, with children that cried and 
stumbled, their dainty clothes smothered in 
dust, their weary faces smeared with tears. 
With many of these came men, sometimes help- 
ful, sometimes lowering and savage. Fighting 
side by side with them pushed some weary 
street outcast in faded black rags, wide-eyed, 
loud-voiced, and foul-mouthed. There were 
sturdy workmen thrusting their way along, 
wretched, unkempt men^ clothed like clerks or 
shop-men, struggling spasmodically; a wounded 
soldier my brother noticed, men dressed in the 
clothes of railway porters, one wretched creat- 
ure in a night-shirt with a coat thrown over it. 

But varied as its composition was, certain 
things all that host had in common. There 
were fear and pain on their faces, and fear 
behind them. A tumult up the road, a quarrel 
for a place in a wagon, sent the whole host of 
them quickening their pace ; even a man so 
scared and broken that his knees bent under 
him was galvanized for a moment into renewed 
activity. The heat and dust had already been 
at work upon this multitude. Their skins were 
dry, their lips black and cracked. They were 
all thirsty, weary, and footsore. And amid the 
L i6i 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

various cries one heard disputes, reproaches, 
groans of weariness and fatigue ; the voices of 
most of them were hoarse and weak. Through 
it all ran a refrain : 

"Way ! way ! The Martians are coming !" 

Few stopped and came aside from that flood. 
The lane opened slantingly into the main road 
with a narrow opening, and had a delusive 
appearance of coming from the direction of 
London. Yet a kind of eddy of people drove 
into its mouth ; weaklings elbowed out of the 
stream, who for the most part rested but a 
moment before plunging into it again. A little 
way down the lane, with two friends bending 
over him, lay a man with a bare leg, wrapped 
about with bloody rags. He was a lucky man 
to have friends. 

A little old man, with a gray military mus^ 
tache and a filthy black frock-coat, limped out 
and sat down beside the trap, removed his boot 
— his sock was blood-stained — shook out a 
pebble, and hobbled on again ; and then a 
little girl of eight or nine, all alone, threw 
herself under the hedge close by my brother, 
weeping. 

" I can't go on ! I can't go on !" 

My brother woke from his torpor of astonish- 
ment and lifted her up, speaking gently to her, 
and carried her to Miss Elphinstone. So soon 

162 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

as my brother touched her she became quite 
still, as if frightened. 

" Ellen !" shrieked a woman in the crowd, 
with tears in her voice — '^ Ellen !" And the 
child suddenly darted away from my brother, 
crying, " Mother !" 

^'They are coming," said a man on horse- 
back, riding past along the lane. 

'' Out of the way, there !" bawled a coachman, 
towering high ; and my brother saw a closed 
carriage turning into the lane. 

The people crushed back on one another to 
avoid the horse. My brother pushed the pony 
and chaise back into the hedge, and the man 
drove by and stopped at the turn of the way. 
It was a carriage, with a pole for a pair of 
horses, but only one was in the traces. My 
brother saw dimly through the dust that two 
men lifted out something on a white stretcher 
and put it gently on the grass beneath the 
privet hedge. 

One of the men came running to my brother. 

"Where is there any water?" he said. "He 
is dying fast, and very thirsty. It is Lord 
Garrick." 

" Lord Garrick !" said my brother — " the 
Chief Justice?" 

" The water ?" he said. 

" There may be a tap," said my brother, "in 

163 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

some of the houses. We have no water. I 
dare not leave my people." 

The man pushed against the crowd towards 
the gate of the corner house. 

" Go on !" said the people, thrusting at him. 
" They are coming ! Go on !" 

Then my brother's attention was distracted 
by a bearded, eagle-faced man lugging a small 
hand-bag, which split even as my brother's 
eyes rested on it, and disgorged a mass of sov- 
ereigns that seemed to break up into separate 
coins as it struck the ground. They rolled 
hither and thither among the struggling feet 
of men and horses. The man stopped and 
looked stupidly at the heap, and the shaft of a 
cab struck .his shoulder and sent him reeling. 
He gave a shriek and dodged back, and a cart- 
wheel shaved him narrowly. 

" Way !" cried the men all about him. 
" Make way !" 

So soon as the cab had passed, he flung him- 
self, with both hands open, upon the heap of 
coins, and began thrusting handfuls in his 
pocket. A horse rose close upon him, and 
in another moment, half rising, he had been 
borne down under the horse's hoofs. 

" Stop !" screamed my brother, and, pushing 
a woman out of his way, tried to clutch the bit 
of the horse. 

164 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

Before he could get to it, he heard a scream 
under the wheels, and saw through the dust 
the rim passing over the poor wretch's back. 
The driver of the cart slashed his whip at my 
brother, who ran round behind the cart. The 
multitudinous shouting confused his ears. 
The man was writhing in the dust among his 
scattered money, unable to rise, for the wheel 
had broken his back, and his lower limbs lay 
limp and dead. My brother stood up and 
yelled at the next driver, and a man on a black 
horse came to his assistance. 

" Get him out of the road," said he ; and, 
clutching the man's collar with his free hand, 
my brother lugged him sideways. But he still 
clutched after his money, and regarded my 
brother fiercely, hammering at his arm with a 
handful of gold. '' Go on ! Go on I" shouted 
angry voices behind. " Way ! Way !" 

There was a smash as the pole of a carriage 
crashed into the cart that the man on horse- 
back stopped. My brother looked up, and the 
man with the gold twisted his head round and 
bit the wrist that held his collar. There was a 
concussion, and the black horse came stagger- 
ing sideways, and the cart-horse pushed beside 
it. A hoof missed my brother's foot by a hair's 
breadth. He released his grip on the fallen 
man and jumped back. He saw anger change 

i6s 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

to terror on the face of the poor wretch on the 
ground, and in a moment he was hidden and 
my brother was borne backward and carried 
past the entrance of the lane, and had to fight 
hard in the torrent to recover it. 

He saw Miss Elphinstone covering her eyes, 
and a little child, with all a child's want of 
sympathetic imagination, staring with dilated 
eyes at a dusty something that lay black and 
still, ground and crushed under the rolling 
wheels. " Let us go back !'* he shouted, and 
began turning the pony round. " We cannot 
cross this — hell," he said ; and they went back 
a hundred yards the way they had come, un- 
til the fighting crowd was hidden. As they 
passed the. bend in the lane my brother saw the 
face of the dying man in the ditch under the 
privet, deadly white and drawn, and shining 
with perspiration. The two women sat silent, 
crouching in their seats and shivering. 

Then beyond the bend my brother stopped 
again. Miss Elphinstone was white and pale, 
and her sister-in-law sat weeping, too wretched 
even to call upon " George." My brother was 
horrified and perplexed. So soon as they had 
retreated he realized how urgent and una- 
voidable it was to attempt this crossing. He 
turned to Miss Elphinstone, suddenly reso- 
lute. 

i66 



THE EXODUS FROM LONDON 

" We must go that way/* he said, and led the 
pony round again. 

For the second time that day this girl proved 
her quality. To force their way into the tor- 
rent of people, my brother plunged into the 
traffic and held back a cab-horse, while she 
drove the pony across its head. A wagon 
locked wheels for a moment and ripped a long 
splinter from the chaise. In another moment 
they were caught and swept forward by the 
stream. My brother, with the cabman's whip- 
marks red across his face and hands, scram- 
bled into the chaise and took the reins from 
her. 

" Point the revolver at the man behind," he 
said, giving it to her, "if he presses us too 
hard. No ! — point it at his horse." 

Then he began to look out for a chance of 
edging to the right across the road. But once 
in the stream he seemed to lose volition, to 
become a part of that dusty rout. They swept 
through Chipping Barnet with the torrent ; 
they were nearly a mile beyond the centre of 
the town before they had fought across to the 
opposite side of the way. It was din and con- 
fusion indescribable ; but in and beyond the 
town the road forks repeatedly, and this to 
some extent relieved the stress. 

They struck eastward through Hadley, and 

167 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

there on either side of the road, and at another 
place farther on they came upon a great mul- 
titude of people drinking at the stream, some 
fighting to come at the water. And farther 
on, from a hill near East Barnet, they saw two 
trains running slowly one after the other with- 
out signal or order — trains swarming with 
people, with men even among the coals behind 
the engines — going northward along the Great 
Northern Railway. My brother supposes they 
must have filled outside London, for at that 
time the furious terror of the people had ren- 
dered the central termini impossible. 

Near this place they halted for the rest of 
the afternoon, for the violence of the day had 
already utterly exhausted all three of them. 
They began to suffer the beginnings of hun- 
ger ; the night was cold, and none of them 
dared to sleep. And in the evening many 
people came hurrying along the road near by 
their stopping - place, fleeing from unknown 
dangers before them, and going in the direc- 
tion from which my brother had come. 



XVII 

THE "THUNDER CHILD '' 

Had the Martians aimed only at destruction, 
they might on Monday have annihilated the 
entire population of London, as it spread it- 
self slowly through the home counties. Not 
only along the road through Barnet, but also 
through Edgware and Waltham Abbey, and 
along the roads eastward to Southend and 
Shoeburyness, and South of the Thames to 
Deal and Broadstairs, poured the same frantic 
rout. If one could have hung that June morn- 
ing in a balloon in the blazing blue above Lon- 
don, every northward and eastward road run- 
ning out of the infinite tangle of streets would 
have seemed stippled black with the streaming 
fugitives, each dot a human agony of terror 
and physical distress. I have set forth at 
length in the last chapter my brother's account 
of the road through Chipping Barnet, in order 
that my readers may realize how that swarm- 
ing of black dots appeared to one of those 
concerned. Never before in the history of the 

169 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

world had such a mass of human beings moved 
and suffered together. The legendary hosts 
of Goths and Huns, the hugest armies Asia 
has ever seen, would have been but a drop in 
that current. And this was no disciplined 
march ; it was a stampede — a stampede gigan- 
tic and terrible — without order and without a 
goal, six million people, unarmed and unpro- 
visioned, driving headlong. It was the begin- 
ning of the rout of civilization, of the massa- 
cre of mankind. 

Directly below him the balloonist would 
have seen the network of streets far and wide, 
houses, churches, squares, crescents, gardens — 
already derelict — spread out like a huge map, 
and in the southward blotted. Over Ealing, 
Richmond, Wimbledon, it would have seemed 
as if some monstrous pen had flung ink upon- 
the chart. Steadily, incessantly, each black 
splash grew and spread, shooting out ramifi- 
cations this way and that, now banking itself 
against rising ground, now pouring swiftly 
over a crest into a new - found valley, exactly 
as a gout of ink would spread itself upon blot- 
ting-paper. 

And beyond, over the blue hills that rise 
southward of the river, the glittering Martians 
went to and fro, calmly and methodically 
spreading their poison - cloud over this patch 

170 



THE '^THUNDER CHILD'' 

of country, and then over that, laying it again 
with their steam - jets when it had served its 
purpose, and taking possession of the con- 
quered country. They do not seem to have 
aimed at extermination so much as at com- 
plete demoralization and the destruction of 
any opposition. They exploded any stores of 
powder they came upon, cut every telegraph, 
and wrecked the railways here and there. 
They were hamstringing mankind. They 
seemed in no hurry to extend the field of 
their operations, and did not come beyond 
the central part of London all that day. It 
is possible that a very considerable number 
of people in London stuck to their houses 
through Monday morning. Certain it is that 
many died at home, suffocated by the Black 
Smoke. 

Until about mid - day the Pool of London 
was an astonishing scene. Steamboats and 
shipping of all sorts lay there, tempted by the 
enormous sums of money offered by fugitives, 
and it is said that many who swam out to 
these vessels were thrust off with boat-hooks 
and drowned. About one o'clock in the after- 
noon the thinning remnant of a cloud of the 
black vapor appeared between the arches of 
Blackfriars Bridge. At that the Pool became 
a scene of mad confusion, fighting, and coUi- 

171 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

sion, and for some time a multitude of boats 
and barges jammed in the northern arch of 
the Tower Bridge, and the sailors and lighter- 
men had to fight savagely against the people 
who swarmed upon them from the river front. 
People were actually clambering down the 
piers of the bridge from above. 

When, an hour later, a Martian appeared 
beyond the Clock Tower and waded down the 
river, nothing but wreckage floated above 
Limehouse. 

Of the falling of the fifth cylinder I have 
presently to tell. The sixth star fell at Wim- 
bledon. My brother, keeping watch beside the 
women sleeping in the chaise in a meadow, 
saw the green flash of it far beyond the hills. 
On Tuesday the little party, still set upon get- 
ting across the sea, made its way through the 
swarming country towards Colchester. The 
news that the Martians were now in possession 
of the whole of London was confirmed. They 
had been seen at Highgate, and even, it was 
said, at Neasdon. But they did not come into 
my brother's view until the morrow. 

That day the scattered multitudes began to 
realize the urgent need of provisions. As they 
grew hungry the rights of property ceased to 
be regarded. Farmers were out to defend 
their cattlesheds, granaries, and ripening root 

172 



THE '^THUNDER CHILD" 

crops with arms in their hands. A number of 
people now, like my brother, had their faces 
eastward, and there were some desperate souls 
even going back towards London to get food. 
These were chiefly people from the northern 
suburbs, whose knowledge of the Black Smoke 
came by hearsay. He heard that about half 
the members of the government had gath- 
ered at Birmingham, and that enormous quan- 
tities of high explosives were being prepared 
to be used in automatic mines across the Mid- 
land counties. 

He was also told that the Midland Railway 
Company had replaced the desertions of the 
first day's panic, had resumed traffic, and was 
running northward trains from St. Albans to 
relieve the congestion of the home counties. 
There was also a placard in Chipping Ongar 
announcing that large stores of flour were 
available in the northern towns, and that with- 
in twenty-four hours bread would be distrib- 
uted among the starving people in the neigh- 
borhood. But this intelligence did not deter 
him from the plan of escape he had formed, 
and the three pressed eastward all day, and 
saw no more of the bread distribution than 
this promise. Nor, as a matter of fact, did 
any one else see more of it. That night fell 
the seventh star, falling upon Primrose Hill. 

173 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

It fell while Miss Elphinstone was watching, 
for she took that duty alternately with my 
brother. She saw it. 

On Wednesday the three fugitives — they had 
passed the night in a field of unripe wheat — 
reached Chelmsford, and there a body of the 
inhabitants, calling itself the Committee of 
Public Supply, seized the pony as provisions, 
and would give nothing in exchange for it but 
the promise of a share in it the next day. Here 
there were rumors of Martians at Epping, 
and news of the destruction of Waltham Abbey 
Powder Mills in a vain attempt to blow up one 
of the invaders. 

People were watching for Martians here 
from the church towers. My brother, very 
luckily for him as it chanced, preferred to push 
on at once to the coast rather than wait for 
food, although all three of them were very 
hungry. By mid -day they passed through 
Tillingham, which, strangely enough, seemed 
to be quite silent and deserted, save for a few 
furtive plunderers hunting for food. Near 
Tillingham they suddenly came in sight of the 
sea, and the most amazing crowd of shipping 
of all sorts that it is possible to imagine. 

For after the sailors could no longer come 
up the Thames, they came on to the Essex 
coast, to Harwich and Walton and Clacton, 

174 



THE ''THUNDER CHILD^' 

and afterwards to Foulness and Shoebury, to 
bring off the people. They lay in a huge 
sickle-shaped curve that vanished into mist at 
last towards the Naze. Close inshore was a 
multitude of fishing-smacks — English, Scotch, 
French, Dutch, and Swedish ; steam-launches 
from the Thames, yachts, electric boats ; and 
beyond were ships of large burden, a multitude 
of filthy colliers, trim merchantmen, cattle- 
ships, passenger-boats, petroleum-tanks, ocean 
tramps, an old white transport even, neat 
white and gray liners from Southampton and 
Hamburg ; and along the blue coast across 
the Blackwater my brother could make out 
dimly a dense swarm of boats chaffering with 
the people on the beach, a swarm which also 
extended up the Blackwater almost to Mal- 
don. 

About a couple of miles out lay an ironclad, 
very low in the w^ater, almost, to my brother's 
perception, like a water-logged ship. This was 
the ram Thunder Child. It was the only war- 
ship in sight, but far away to the right over 
the smooth surface of the sea — for that day 
there was a dead calm — lay a serpent of black 
smoke to mark the next ironclads of the Chan- 
nel Fleet, which hovered in an extended line, 
steam up and ready for action, across the 
Thames estuary during the course of the Mar- 

175 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

tian conquest, vigilant and yet powerless to 
prevent it. 

At the sight of the sea, Mrs. Elphinstone, in 
spite of the assurances of her sister-in-law, gave 
way to panic. She had never been out of Eng- 
land before, she would rather die than trust 
herself friendless in a foreign country, and so 
forth. She seemed, poor woman, to imagine 
that the French and the Martians might prove 
very similar. She had been growing increas- 
ingly hysterical, fearful, and depressed during 
the two days' journeyings. Her great idea 
was to return to Stanmore. Things had been 
always well and safe at Stanmore. They would 
find George at Stanmore. 

It was with the greatest difficulty they could 
get her down to the beach, where presently 
my brother succeeded in attracting the atten- 
tion of some men on a paddle steamer from 
the Thames. They sent a boat and drove a 
bargain for thirty-six pounds for the three. 
The steamer was going, these men said, to 
Ostend. 

It was about two o'clock when my brother, 
having paid their fares at the gangway, found 
himself safely aboard the steamboat with his 
charges. There was food aboard, albeit at 
exorbitant prices, and the three of them con- 
trived to eat a meal on one of the seats forward 

176 



THE ^'THUNDER CHILD" 

There were already a couple of score of 
passengers aboard, some of whom had ex- 
pended their last money in securing a passage, 
but the captain lay off the Blackwater until 
five in the afternoon, picking up passengers 
until the seated decks were even dangerously 
crowded. He would probably have remained 
longer had it not been for the sound of guns 
that began about that hour in the south. As 
if in answer, the ironclad seaward fired a small 
gun and hoisted a string of flags. A jet of 
smoke sprang out of her funnels. 

Some of the passengers were of opinion that 
this firing came from Shoeburyness, until it was 
noticed that it was growing louder. At the 
same time, far away in the southeast the 
masts and upper-works of three ironclads rose 
one after the other out of the sea, beneath 
clouds of black smoke. But my brother's at- 
tention speedily reverted to the distant firing 
in the south. He fancied he saw a column of 
smoke rising out of the distant gray haze. 

The little steamer was already flapping her 
way eastward of the big crescent of shipping, 
and the low Essex coast was growing blue and 
hazy, when a Martian appeared, small and faint 
in the remote distance, advancing along the 
muddy coast from the direction of Foulness. 
At that the captain on the bridge swore at the 

H 177 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

top of his voice with fear and anger at his own 
delay, and the paddles seemed infected with 
his terror. Every soul aboard stood at the 
bulwarks or on the seats of the steamer and 
stared at that distant shape, higher than the 
trees or church towers inland, and advancing 
with a leisurely parody of a human stride. 

It was the first Martian my brother had 
seen, and he stood, more amazed than terrified, 
watching this Titan advancing deliberately tow- 
ards the shipping, wading farther and farther 
into the water as the coast fell away. Then, 
far away beyond the Crouch, came another, 
striding over some stunted trees, and then yet 
another, still farther off, wading deeply through 
a shiny mud-flat that seemed to hang half-way 
up between sea and sky. They were all stalk- 
ing seaward, as if to intercept the escape of 
the multitudinous vessels that were crowded 
between Foulness and the Naze. In spite 
of the throbbing exertions of the engines of 
the little paddle-boat, and the pouring foam 
that her wheels flung behind her, she receded 
with terrifying slowness from this ominous 
advance. 

Glancing northwestward, my brother saw the 
large crescent of shipping already writhing 
with the approaching terror ; one ship passing 
behind another, another coming round from 

178 



THE ''THUNDER CHILD" 

broadside to end on, steamships whistling and 
giving off volumes of steam, sails being let 
out, launches rushing hither and thither. He 
was so fascinated by this and by the creeping 
danger away to the left that he had no eyes 
for anything seaward. And then a swift move- 
ment of the steamboat (she had suddenly come 
round to avoid being run down) flung him 
headlong from the seat upon which he was 
standing. There was a shouting all about 
him, a trampling of feet, and a cheer that 
seemed to be answered faintly. The steam- 
boat lurched and rolled him over upon his 
hands. 

He sprang to his feet and saw to starboard, 
and not a hundred yards fromi their heeling, 
pitching boat, a vast iron bulk like the blade 
of a plough tearing through the water, tossing 
it on either side in huge waves of foam that 
leaped towards the steamer, flinging her pad- 
dles helplessly in the air, and then sucking her 
deC^k down almost to the water-line. 

A douche of spray blinded my brother for a 
moment. When his eyes were clear again he 
saw the monster had passed and was rushing 
landward. Big iron upper-works rose out of 
this headlong structure, and from that twin 
funnels projected and spat a smoking blast 
shot with fire into the air. It was the torpedo- 

179 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ram, Thunder Child^ steaming headlong, com- 
ing to the rescue of the threatened shipping. 

Keeping his footing on the heaving deck by- 
clutching the bulwarks, my brother looked past 
this charging leviathan at the Martians again, 
and he saw the three of them now close to- 
gether, and standing so far out to sea that 
their tripod supports were almost entirely sub- 
merged. Thus sunken, and seen in remote 
perspective, they appeared far less formidable 
than the huge iron bulk in whose wake the 
steamer was pitching so helplessly. It would 
seem they were regarding this new antagonist 
with astonishment. To their intelligence, it 
may be, the giant was even such another as 
themselves. The Thunder Child fired no gun, 
but simply drove full speed towards them. It 
was probably her not firing that enabled her to 
get so near the enemy as she did. They did 
not know what to make of her. One shell, 
and they would have sent her to the bottom 
forthwith with the Heat-Ray. 

She was steaming at such a pace that in a 
minute she seemed half-way between the 
steamboat and the Martians — a diminishing 
black bulk against the receding horizontal ex- 
panse of the Essex coast. 

Suddenly the foremost Martian lowered his- 
tube and discharged a canister of the black 

i8o 



THE ''THUNDER CHILD'' 

gas at the ironclad. It hit her larboard side 
and glanced off in an inky jet that rolled 
away to seaward, an unfolding torrent of Black 
Smoke, from which the ironclad drove clear. 
To the watchers from the steamer, low in the 
water and with the sun in their eyes, it seemed 
as though she were already among the Mar- 
tians. 

They saw the gaunt figures separating and 
rising out of the water as they retreated shore- 
ward, and one of them raised the camera-like 
generator of the Heat-Ray. He held it point- 
ing obliquely downward, and a bank of steam 
sprang from the water at its touch. It must 
have driven through the iron of the ship's side 
like a white-hot iron rod through paper. 

A flicker of flame went up through the ris- 
ing steam, and then the Martian reeled and 
staggered. In another moment he was cut 
down, and a great body of water and steam 
shot high in the air. The guns of the Thunder 
Child sounded through the reek, going off one 
after the other, and one shot splashed the 
water high close by the steamer, ricochetted 
towards the other flying ships to the north, 
and smashed a smack to match-wood. 

But no one heeded that very much. At the 
sight of the Martian's collapse the captain on 
the bridge yelled inarticulately, and all the 

i8i 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

crowding passengers on the steamer's stern 
shouted together. And then they yelled again. 
For, surging out beyond the white tumult 
drove something long and black, the flames 
streaming from its middle parts, its ventilators 
and funnels spouting fire. 

She was alive still ; the steering - gear, it 
seems, was intact and her engines working. 
She headed straight for a second Martian, and 
was within a hundred yards of him when the 
Heat-Ray came to bear. Then with a violent 
thud, a blinding flash, her decks, her funnels, 
leaped upward. The Martian staggered with 
the violence of her explosion, and in another 
moment the flaming wreckage, still driving 
forward with the impetus of its pace, had 
struck him and crumpled him up like a thing 
of card-board. My brother shouted involun- 
tarily. A boiling tumult of steam hid every- 
thing again. 

"Two !" yelled the captain. 

Every one was shouting. The whole steamer 
from end to end rang with frantic cheering that 
was taken up first by one and then by all in the 
crowding multitude of ships and boats that was 
driving out to sea. 

The steam hung upon the water for many 
minutes, hiding the third Martian and the coast 
altogether. And all this time the boat was pad- 

182 



THE '^THUNDER CHILD'' 

dling steadily out to sea and away from the 
fight ; and when, at last, the confusion cleared, 
the drifting bank of black vapor intervened, 
and nothing of the Thunder Child could be 
made out, nor could the third Martian be seen. 
But the ironclads to seaward were now quite 
close and standing in towards shore past the 
steamboat. 

The little vessel continued to beat its way 
seaward, and the ironclads receded slowly tow- 
ards the coast, which was hidden still by a 
marbled bank of vapor, part steam, part black 
gas, eddying and combining in the strangest 
ways. The fleet of refugees was scattering 
to the northeast ; several smacks were sailing 
between the ironclads and the steamboat. 
After a time, and before they reached the 
sinking cloud-bank, the warships turned north- 
ward, and then abruptly went about and 
passed into the thickening haze of evening, 
southward. The coast grew faint, and, at last, 
indistinguishable amid the low banks of clouds 
that were gathering about the sinking sun. 

Then suddenly out of the golden haze of the 
sunset came the vibration of guns, and a form 
of black shadows moving. Every one struggled 
to the rail of the steamer and peered into the 
blinding furnace of the west, but nothing was 
to be distinguished clearly. A mass of smoke 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

rose slantingly and barred the face of the sun. 
The steamboat throbbed on its way through 
an interminable suspense. 

The sun sank into gray clouds, the sky 
flushed and darkened, the evening star trem- 
bled into sight. It was deep twilight when 
the captain cried out and pointed. My brother 
strained his eyes. Something rushed up into 
the sky out of the grayness — rushed slantingly 
upward and very swiftly into the luminous 
clearness above the clouds in the western sky ; 
something flat and broad and very large, that 
swept round in a vast curve, grew smaller, sank 
slowly, and vanished again into the gray mys- 
tery of the night. And as it flew it rained down 
darkness upon the land. 



THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS 



UNDER FOOT 

In the first book I have wandered so much 
from my own adventures to tell of the experi- 
ences of my brother that all through the last 
two chapters I and the curate have been lurk- 
ing in the empty house at Halliford whither 
we fled to escape the Black Smoke. There I 
will resume. We stopped there all Sunday 
night and all the next day — the day of the 
panic — in a little island of daylight, cut off by 
the Black Smoke from the rest of the world. 
We could do nothing but wait in an aching 
inactivity during those two weary days. 

My mind was occupied by anxiety for my 
wife. I figured her at Leatherhead, terrified, 
in danger, mourning me already as a dead man. 
I paced the rooms and cried aloud when I 
thought of how I was cut off from her, of all 
that might happen to her in my absence. My 
cousin I knew was brave enough for any emer- 
gency, but he was not the sort of man to re- 
alize danger quickly, to rise promptly. What 

187 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

was needed now was not bravery, but circum- 
spection. My only consolation was to believe 
that the Martians were moving Londonward 
and away from her. Such vague anxieties keep 
the mind sensitive and painful. I grew very 
weary and irritable with the curate's perpetual 
ejaculations ; I tired of the sight of his selfish 
despair. After some ineffectual remonstrance 
I kept away from him, staying in a room — 
evidently a children's school -room — contain- 
ing globes, forms, and copy-books. When, at 
last, he followed me thither, I went to a box- 
room at the top of the house and, in order to 
be alone with my aching miseries, locked my- 
self in. 

We were hopelessly hemmed in by the Black 
Smoke all that day and the morning of the 
next. There were signs of people in the next 
house on Sunday evening — a face at a window, 
and moving lights, and later the slamming of 
a door. But I do not know who these people 
were, nor what became of them. We saw 
nothing of them next day. The Black Smoke 
drifted slowly riverward all through Monday 
morning, creeping nearer and nearer to us, 
driving at last along the roadway outside the 
house that hid us. 

A Martian came across the fields about mid- 
day, laying the stuff with a jet of superheated 

1 88 



UNDER FOOT 

steam that hissed against the walls, smashed 
all the windows it touched, and scalded the 
curate's hand as he fled out of the front-room. 
When at last we crept across the sodden rooms 
and looked out again, the country northward 
was as though a black snowstorm had passed 
over it. Looking towards the river, we were 
astonished to see an unaccountable redness 
mingling with the black of the scorched mead- 
ows. 

For a time we did not see how this change 
affected our position, save that we were re- 
lieved of our fear of the Black Smoke. But 
later I perceived that we were no longer 
hemmed in, that now we might get away. So 
soon as I realized that the way of escape was 
open, my dream of action returned. But the 
curate was lethargic, unreasonable. 

" We are safe here," he repeated ; " safe 
here." 

I resolved to leave him — would that I had ! 
Wiser now for the artilleryman's teaching, I 
sought out food and drink. I had found oil 
and rags for my burns, and I also took a hat 
and a flannel shirt that I found in one of the 
bedrooms. When it was clear to him that I 
meant to go alone — had reconciled myself to go- 
ing alone — he suddenly roused himself to come. 
And, all being quiet throughout the afternoon, 

189 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

we started about five o'clock, as I should judge, 
along the blackened road to Sunbury. 

In Sunbury, and at intervals along the road, 
were dead bodies lying in contorted attitudes — 
horses as well as men — overturned carts and 
luggage, all covered thickly with black dust. 
That pall of cindery powder made me think of 
what I had read of the destruction of Pompeii. 
We got to Hampton Court without misadvent- 
ure, our minds full of strange and unfamiliar 
appearances, and at Hampton Court our eyes 
were relieved to find a patch of green that had 
escaped the suffocating drift. We went through 
Bushey Park, with its deer going to and fro 
under the chestnuts, and some men and women 
hurrying in the distance towards Hampton, 
and so we came to Twickenham. These were 
the first people we saw. 

Away across the road the woods beyond 
Ham and Petersham were still afire. Twick- 
enham was uninjured by either Heat-Ray or 
Black Smoke, and there were more people 
about here, though none could give us news. 
For the most part they were like ourselves, 
taking advantage of a lull to shift their quar- 
ters. I have an impression that many of the 
houses here were still occupied by scared in- 
habitants, too frightened even for flight. Here, 
too, the evidence of a hasty rout was abundant 

190 



UNDER FOOT 

^long the road. I remember most vividly three 
smashed bicycles in a heap, pounded into the 
road by the wheels of subsequent carts. We 
crossed Richmond Bridge about half-past eight. 
We hurried across the exposed bridge, of course, 
but I noticed floating down the stream a num- 
ber of red masses, some many feet across. I 
did not know what these were — there was no 
time for scrutiny — and I put a more horrible 
interpretation on them than they deserved. 
Here, again, on the Surrey side, were black 
dust that had once been smoke, and dead bod- 
ies — a heap near the approach to the station ; 
but we caught not a sight of the Martians 
until we were some way towards Barnes. 

We saw in the blackened distance a group 
of three people running down a side street 
towards the river, but otherwise it seemed de- 
serted. Up the hill Richmond town was burn- 
ing briskly ; outside the town of Richmond 
there was no trace of the Black Smoke. 

Then, suddenly, as we approached Kew, came 
a number of people running, and the upper- 
works of a Martian fighting-machine loomed 
in sight over the house - tops, not a hundred 
yards away from us. We stood aghast at our 
danger, and had he looked down we must im- 
mediately have perished. We were so terrified 
that we dared not go on, but turned aside and 

191 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

hid in a shed in a garden. There the curate 
crouched, weeping silently, and refusing to stir 
again. 

But my fixed idea of reaching Leatherhead 
would not let me rest, and in the twilight I 
ventured out again. I went through a shrub- 
bery, and along a passage beside a big house 
standing in its own grounds, and so emerged 
upon the road towards Kew. The curate I 
left in the shed, but he came hurrying after me. 

That second start was the most foolhardy 
thing I ever did. For it was manifest the Mar- 
tians were about us. No sooner had the curate 
overtaken me than we saw either the fighting- 
machine we had seen before or another, far 
away across the meadows in the direction of 
Kew Lodge. Four or five little black figures 
hurried before it across the green-gray of the 
field, and in a moment it was evident this 
Martian pursued them. In three strides he 
was among them, and they ran radiating from 
his feet in all directions. He used no Heat- 
Ray to destroy them, but picked them up one 
by one. Apparently he tossed them into the 
great metallic carrier which projected behind 
him, much as a workman's basket hangs over 
his shoulder. 

It was the first time I realized that the Mar- 
tians might have any other purpose than de- 

192 



UNDER FOOT 

struction with defeated humanity. We stood 
for a moment petrified, then turned and fled 
through a gate behind us into a walled garden, 
fell into, rather than found, a fortunate ditch, 
and lay there, scarce daring to whisper to each 
other until the stars were out. 

I suppose it was nearly eleven o'clock before 
we gathered courage to start again, no longer 
venturing into the road, but sneaking along 
hedge -rows and through plantations, and 
watching keenly through the darkness, he on 
the right and I on the left, for the Martians, 
who seemed to be all about us. In one place 
we blundered upon a scorched and blackened 
area, now cooling and ashen, and a number of 
scattered dead bodies of men, burned horribly 
about the heads and trunks, but with their legs 
and boots mostly intact ; and of dead horses, 
fifty feet, perhaps, behind a line of four ripped 
guns and smashed gun-carriages. 

Sheen, it seemed, had escaped destruction, 
but the place was silent and deserted. Here 
we happened on no dead, though the night 
was too dark for us to see into the side roads 
of the place. In Sheen my companion sud- 
denly complained of faintness and thirst, and 
we decided to try one of the houses. 

The first house we entered, after a little 
<ifl&culty with the window, was a small semi- 

N IQ2 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

detached villa, and I found nothing eatable 
left in the place but some mouldy cheese. 
There was, however, water to drink ; and I took 
a hatchet, which promised to be useful in our 
next house-breaking. 

We then crossed to a place where the road 
turns towards Mortlake. Here there stood 
a white house within a walled garden, and in 
the pantry of this domicile we found a store 
of food — two loaves of bread in a pan, an un- 
cooked steak, and the half of a ham. I give 
this catalogue so precisely because, as it hap- 
pened, we were destined to subsist upon this 
store for the next fortnight. Bottled beer 
stood under a shelf, and there were two bags 
of haricot beans and some limp lettuces. This 
pantry opened into a kind of wash-up kitchen, 
and in this was firewood ; there was also a cup- 
board, in which we found nearly a dozen of 
burgundy, tinned soups and salmon, and two 
tins of biscuits. 

We sat in the adjacent kitchen in the dark — 
for we dared not strike a light — and ate bread 
and ham, and drank beer out of the same bottle. 
The curate, who was still timorous and rest- 
less, was now, oddly enough, for pushing on, 
and I was urging him to keep up his strength 
by eating when the thing that was to imprison 
us happened. 

194 



UNDER FOOT 

" It can't be midnight yet,'* I said, and then 
came a blinding glare of vivid green light. 
Everything in the kitchen leaped out, clearly 
visible in green and black, and vanished again. 
And then followed such a concussion as I have 
never heard before or since. So close on the 
heels of this as to seem instantaneous came 
a thud behind me, a clash of glass, a crash and 
rattle of falling masonry all about us, and in- 
continently the plaster of the ceiling came 
down upon us, smashing into a multitude of 
fragments upon our heads. I was knocked 
headlong across the floor against the oven 
handle and stunned. I was insensible for a 
long time, the curate told me, and when I 
came to we were in darkness again, and he, 
with a face wet, as I found afterwards, with 
blood from a cut forehead, was dabbing water 
over me. 

For some time I could not recollect what had 
happened. Then things came to me slowly. 
A bruise on my temple asserted itself. 

"Are you better?" asked the curate, in a 
whisper. 

At last I answered him. I sat up. 

" Don't move," he said " The floor is cov- 
ered with smashed crockery from the dresser. 
You can't possibly move without making a 
noise, and I fancy they are outside." 

195 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

We both sat quite silent, so that we could 
scarcely hear each other breathing. Every- 
thing seemed deadly still, but once something 
near us, some plaster or broken brick - work, 
slid down with a rumbling sound. Outside 
and very near was an intermittent, metallic 
rattle. 

"That!" said the curate, when presently it 
happened again. 

" Yes," I said. ^ " But what is it ?" 

"A Martian !" said the curate. 

I listened again. 

" It was not like the Heat-Ray," I said, and 
for a time I was inclined to think one of the 
great fighting-machines had stumbled against 
the house, as I had seen one stumble against 
the tower of Shepperton Church. 

Our situation was so strange and incompre- 
hensible that for three or four hours, until the 
dawn came, we scarcely moved. And then 
the light filtered in, not through the window, 
which remained black, but through a triangu- 
lar aperture between a beam and a heap of 
broken bricks in the wall behind us. The in- 
terior of the kitchen we now saw grayly for 
the first time. 

The window had been burst in by a mass of 
garden mould, which flowed over the table 
upon which we had been sitting and lay about 

196 



UNDER FOOT 

'Our feet. Outside, the soil was banked high 
against the house. At the top of the window- 
frame we could see an uprooted drain -pipe. 
The floor was littered with smashed hardware ; 
the end of the kitchen towards the house was 
broken into, and since the daylight shone in 
there, it was evident the greater part of the 
house had collapsed. Contrasting vividly with 
this ruin was the neat dresser, stained in the 
fashion, pale green, and with a number of cop- 
per and tin vessels below it, the wall-paper 
imitating blue and white tiles, and a couple of 
colored supplements fluttering from the walls 
above the kitchen range. 

As the dawn grew clearer, we saw through 
the gap in the wall the body of a Martian, 
standing sentinel, I suppose, over the still glow- 
ing cylinder. At the sight of that we crawled 
as circumspectly as possible out of the twilight 
of the kitchen into the darkness of the scullery. 

Abruptly the right interpretation of the 
things dawned upon my mind. 

"The fifth cylinder," I whispered, "the fifth 
shot from Mars, has struck this house and 
buried us under the ruins !" 

For a time the curate was silent, and then 
he whispered : 

" God have mercy upon us !'* 

I heard him presently whimpering to himself. 

197 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

Save for that sound we lay quite still in the 
scullery ; I for my part scarce dared breathe, 
and sat with my eyes fixed on the faint light 
of the kitchen door. I could just see the 
curate's face, a dim, oval shape, and his collar 
and cuffs. Outside there began a metallic 
hammering, then a violent hooting, and then 
again, after a quiet interval, a hissing, like the 
hissing of an engine. These noises, for the 
most part problematical, continued intermit- 
tently, and seemed, if anything, to increase in 
number as the time wore on. Presently a 
measured thudding, and a vibration that made 
everything about us quiver and the vessels in 
the pantry ring and shift, began and continued. 
Once the light was eclipsed, and the ghostly 
kitchen doorway became absolutely dark. For 
many hours we must have crouched there, silent 
and shivering, until our tired attention failed 

At last I found myself awake and very hun- 
gry. I am inclined to believe we must have 
spent the greater portion of a day before that 
awakening. My hunger was at a stride so in- 
sistent that it moved me to action. I told the 
curate I was going to seek food, and felt my 
way towards the pantry. He made me no an- 
swer, but so soon as I began eating the faint 
noise I made stirred him to action, and I heard 
him crawling after me. 

198 



II 

WHAT WE SAW FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

After eating we crept back to the scullery, 
and there I must have dozed again, for when 
presently I stirred I was alone. The thudding 
vibration continued with wearisome persist- 
ence. I whispered for the curate several times, 
and at last felt my way to the door of the 
kitchen. It was still daylight, and I perceived 
him across the room, lying against the trian- 
gular hole that looked out upon the Martians. 
His shoulders were hunched, so that his head 
was hidden from me. 

I could hear a number of noises, almost like 
those in an engine-shed, and the place rocked 
with that beating thud. Through the aper- 
ture in the wall I could see the top of a tree 
touched with gold, and the warm blue of a 
tranquil evening sky. For a minute or so I 
remained watching the curate, and then I ad- 
vanced, crouching and stepping with extreme 
care amid the broken crockery that littered 
the floor. 

199 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

I touched the curate's leg, and he started so 
violently that a mass of plaster went sliding 
down outside and fell with a loud impact. I 
gripped his arm, fearing he might cry out, 
and for a long time we crouched motionless. 
Then I turned to see how much of our rampart 
remained. The detachment of the plaster had 
left a vertical slit open in the debris, and by 
raising myself cautiously across a beam I was 
able to see out of this gap into what had been 
overnight a quiet suburban roadway. Vast, 
indeed, was the change that we beheld. 

The fifth cylinder must have fallen right 
into the midst of the house we had first vis- 
ited. The building had vanished, completely 
smashed, pulverized, and dispersed by the blow. 
The cylinder lay now far beneath the original 
foundations — deep in a hole, already vastly 
larger than the pit I had looked into at Wo- 
king. The earth all round it had splashed un- 
der that tremendous impact — *' splashed" is 
the only word — and lay in heaped piles that 
hid the masses of the adjacent houses. It had 
behaved exactly like mud under the violent 
blow of a hammer. Our house had collapsed 
backward ; the front portion, even on the 
ground floor, had been destroyed completely ; 
by a chance, the kitchen and scullery had 
escaped, and stood buried now under soil and 

200 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

ruins, closed in by tons of earth on every side, 
save towards the cylinder. Over that aspect 
we hung now on the very edge of the great 
circular pit the Martians were engaged in 
making. The heavy beating sound was evi- 
dently just behind us, and ever and again a 
bright green vapor drove up like a veil across 
our peep-hole. 

The cylinder was already opened in the 
centre of the pit, and on the farther edge of 
the pit, amid the smashed and gravel-heaped 
shrubbery, one of the great fighting-machines, 
deserted by its occupant, stood stiff and tall 
against the evening sky. At first I scarcely 
noticed the pit and the cylinder, although it 
has been convenient to describe them first, 
on account of the extraordinary glittering 
mechanism I saw, busy in the excavation, and 
on account of the strange creatures that 
were crawling slowly and painfully across the 
heaped mould near it. 

The mechanism it certainly was that held my 
attention first. It was one of those complicated 
fabrics that have since been called handling- 
machines, and the study of which has already 
given such an enormous impetus to terres- 
trial invention. As it dawned. upon me first 
it presented a sort of metallic spider with five 
jointed, agile legs, and with an extraordinary 

20I 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

number of jointed levers, bars, and reaching 
and clutching tentacles about its body. Most 
of its arms were retracted, but with three long 
tentacles it was fishing out a number of rods, 
plates, and bars which lined the covering of, 
and apparently strengthened the walls of, the 
cylinder. These, as it extracted them, were 
lifted out and deposited upon a level surface of 
earth behind it. 

Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect 
that at first I did not see it as a machine, in 
spite of its metallic glitter. The fighting- 
machines were co-ordinated and animated to 
an extraordinary pitch, but nothing to com- 
pare with this. People who have never seen 
these structures, and have only the ill-imag- 
ined efforts of artists or the imperfect descrip- 
tions of such eye-witnesses as myself to go 
upon, scarcely realize that living quality. 

I recall particularly the illustration of one 
of the first pamphlets to give a consecutive 
account of the war. The artist had evidently 
made a hasty study of one of the fighting- 
machines, and there his knowledge ended. He 
presented them as tilted, stiff tripods, without 
either flexibility or subtlety, and with an alto- 
gether misleading monotony of effect. The 
pamphlet containing these renderings had a 
considerable vogue, and I mention them here 

202 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

simply to warn the reader against the impres- 
sion they may have created. They were no 
more like the Martians I saw in action than a 
Dutch doll is like a human being. To my 
mind, the pamphlet would have been much 
better without them. 

At first, I say, the handling-machine did not 
impress me as a machine, but as a crab -like 
creature with a glittering integument, the 
controlling Martian whose delicate tentacles 
actuated its movements seeming to be simply 
the equivalent of the crab's cerebral portion. 
But then I perceived the resemblance of its 
gray-brown, shiny, leathery integument to that 
of the other sprawling bodies beyond, and the 
true nature of this dexterous workman dawned 
upon me. With that realization my interest 
shifted to those other creatures, the real 
Martians. Already I had had a transient im- 
pression of these, and the first nausea no 
longer obscured my observation. Moreover, I 
was concealed and motionless, and under no 
urgency of action. 

They were, I now saw, the most unearthly 
creatures it is possible to conceive. They were 
huge round bodies — or, rather, heads — about 
four feet in diameter, each body having in 
front of it a face. This face had no nostrils — 
indeed, the Martians do not seem to have had 

203 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

any sense of smell, but it had a pair of very 
large, dark-colored eyes, and just beneath this 
a kind of fleshy beak. In the back of this head 
or body — I scarcely know how to speak of it — 
was the single tight tympanic surface, since 
known to be anatomically an ear, though it 
must have been almost useless in our denser 
air. In a group round the mouth were sixteen 
slender, almost whip -like tentacles, arranged 
in two bunches of eight each. These bunches 
have since been named rather aptly, by that 
distinguished anatomist. Professor Howes, the 
hands. Even as I saw these Martians for the 
first time they seemed to be endeavoring to 
raise themselves on these hands, but of 
course, with the increased weight of terres- 
trial conditions, this was impossible. There 
is reason to suppose that on Mars they may 
have progressed upon them with some fa- 
cility. 

The internal anatomy, I may remark here, as 
dissection has since shown, was almost equally 
simple. The greater part of the structure was 
the brain, sending enormous nerves to the 
eyes, ear, and tactile tentacles. Besides this 
were the complex lungs, into which the mouth 
opened, and the heart and its vessels. The pul- 
monary distress caused by the denser atmos- 
phere and greater gravitational attraction was 

204 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

only too evident in the convulsive movements 
of the outer skin. 

And this was the sum of the Martian organs. 
Strange as it may seem to a human being, all 
the complex apparatus of digestion, which 
makes up the bulk of our bodies, did not exist 
in the Martians. They were heads — merely 
heads. Entrails they had none. They did not 
eat, much less digest. Instead, they took the 
fresh, living blood of other creatures, and in- 
jected it into their own veins. I have myself 
seen this being done, as I shall mention in its 
place. But, squeamish as I may seem, I can- 
not bring myself to describe what I could not 
endure even to continue watching. Let it 
suffice to say, blood obtained from a still living 
animal, in most cases from a human being, was 
run directly by means of a little pipette into 
the recipient canal. . . . 

The bare idea of this is no doubt horribly 
repulsive to us, but at the same time I think 
that we should remember how repulsive our 
carnivorous habits would seem to an intelli- 
gent rabbit. 

The physiological advantages of the practice 
of injection are undeniable, if one thinks of the 
tremendous waste of human time and energy 
occasioned by eating and the digestive process. 
Our bodies are half made up of glands and 

205 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

tubes and organs, occupied in turning hetero- 
geneous food into blood. The digestive proc- 
esses and their reaction upon the nervous 
system sap our strength and color our minds. 
Men go happy or miserable as they have 
healthy or unhealthy livers, or sound gastric 
glands. But the Martians were lifted above 
all these organic fluctuations of mood and 
emotion. 

Their undeniable preference for men as their 
source of nourishment is partly explained by 
the nature of the remains of the victims they 
had brought with them as provisions from 
Mars. These creatures, to judge from the 
shrivelled remains that had fallen into human 
hands, were bipeds, with flimsy, silicious skele- 
tons (almost like those of the silicious sponges) 
and feeble musculature, standing about six 
feet high, and having round, erect heads, and 
large eyes in flinty sockets. Two or three of 
these seem to have been brought in each cyl- 
inder, and all were killed before earth was 
reached. It was just as well for them, for the 
mere attempt to stand upright upon our planet 
would have broken every bone in their bodies. 

And while I am engaged in this description, 
I may add in this place certain further details, 
which, although they were not all evident to 
us at the time, will enable the reader who is 

206 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

unacquainted with them to form a clearer pict- 
ure of these offensive creatures. 

In three other points their physiology dif- 
fered strangely from ours. Their organisms 
did not sleep, any more than the heart of man 
sleeps. Since they had no extensive muscular 
mechanism to recuperate, that periodical ex- 
tinction was unknown to them. They had 
little or no sense of fatigue, it would seem. 
On earth they could never have moved without 
effort, yet even to the last they kept in action. 
In twenty - four hours they did twenty - four 
hours of work, as even on earth is perhaps the 
case with the ants. 

In the next place, wonderful as it seems in 
a sexual world, the Martians were absolutely 
without sex, and therefore without any of the 
tumultuous emotions that arise from that dif- 
ference among men. A young Martian, there 
can now be no dispute, was really born upon 
earth during the war, and it was found at- 
tached to its parent, partially budded off, just 
as young lily-bulbs bud off, or like the young 
animals in the fresh-water polyp. 

In man, in all the higher terrestrial animals, 
such a method of increase has disappeared ; 
but even on this earth it was certainly the 
primitive method. Among the lower animals, 
up even to those first cousins of the vertebrated 

207 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

animals, the Tunicates, the two processes occur 
side by side, but finally the sexual method su- 
perseded its competitor altogether. On Mars, 
however, just the reverse has apparently been 
the case. 

It is worthy of remark that a certain specu- 
lative writer of quasi-scientific repute, writing 
long before the Martian invasion, did forecast 
for man a final structure not unlike the actual 
Martian condition. His prophecy, I remem- 
ber, appeared in November or December, 1893, 
in a long defunct publication, the Pall Mall 
Budget^ and I recall a caricature of it in a pre- 
Martian periodical called Punch, He pointed 
out — writing in a foolish, facetious tone — that 
the perfection of mechanical appliances must 
ultimately supersede limbs ; the perfection of 
chemical devices, digestion — that such organs 
as hair, external nose, teeth, ears, and chin, were 
no longer essential parts of the human being, 
and that the tendency of natural selection 
would lie in the direction of their steady dimi- 
nution through the coming ages. The brain 
alone remained a cardinal necessity. Only one 
other part of the body had a strong case for 
survival, and that was the hand, " teacher and 
agent of the brain." While the rest of the 
body dwindled, the hands would grow larger. 

There is many a true word written in jest, 

208 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

and here in the Martians we have beyond dis- 
pute the actual accomplishment of such a sup- 
pression of the animal side of the organism 
by the intelligence. To me it is quite credi- 
ble that the Martians may be descended from 
beings not unlike ourselves, by a gradual de- 
velopment of brain and hands (the latter giv- 
ing rise to the two bunches of delicate tenta- 
cles at last) at the expense of the rest of 
the body. Without the body the brain would, 
of course, become a more selfish intelligence, 
without any of the emotional substratum of 
the human being. 

The last salient point in which the systems 
of these creatures differed from ours was in 
what one might have thought a very trivial 
particular. Micro - organisms, which cause so 
much disease and pain on earth, have either 
never appeared upon Mars, or Martian sani- 
tary science eliminated them ages ago. A 
hundred diseases, all the fevers and contagions 
of human life, consumption, cancers, tumors, 
and such morbidities, never enter the scheme 
of their life. And speaking of the differences 
between the life on Mars and terrestrial life, I 
may allude here to the curious suggestions of 
the red weed. 

Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, 
instead of having green for a dominant color, 
o 209 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

is of a vivid blood -red tint. At any rate, the 
seeds which the Martians (intentionally or ac- 
cidentally) brought with them gave rise in all 
cases to red-colored growths. Only that known 
popularly as the red weed, however, gained 
any footing in competition with terrestrial 
forms. The red creeper was quite a transi- 
tory growth, and few people have seen it grow- 
ing. For a time, however, the red weed grew 
with astonishing vigor and luxuriance. It 
spread up the sides of the pit by the third or 
fourth day of our imprisonment, and its cactus- 
like branches formed a carmine fringe to the 
edges of our triangular window. And after- 
wards I found it broadcast throughout the 
country, and especially wherever there was a 
stream of water. 

The Martians had what appears to have been 
an auditory organ, a single round drum at the 
back of the head-body, and eyes with a visual 
range not very different from ours, except that, 
according to Philips, blue and violet were as 
black to them. It is commonly supposed that 
they communicated by sounds and tentacular 
gesticulations ; this is asserted, for instance, 
in the able but hastily compiled pamphlet 
(written evidently by some one not an eye- 
witness of Martian actions) to which I have 
already alluded, and which, so far, has been 

2IO 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

the chief source of information concerning 
them. Now, no surviving human being saw 
so much of the Martians in action as I did. 
I take no credit to myself for an accident, but 
the fact is so. And I assert that I watched 
them closely time after time, and that I have 
seen four, five, and (once) six of them slug- 
glishly performing the most elaborately com- 
plicated operations together without either 
sound or gesture. Their peculiar hooting in- 
variably preceded feeding ; it had no modu- 
lation, and was, I believe, in no sense a signal, 
but merely the expiration of air preparatory 
to the suctional operation. I have a certain 
claim to at least an elementary knowledge of 
psychology, and in this matter I am convinced 
— as firmly as I am convinced of anything — 
that the Martians interchanged thoughts with- 
out any physical intermediation. And I have 
been convinced of this in spite of strong pre- 
conceptions. Before the Martian invasion, as 
an occasional reader here or there may remem- 
ber, I had written, with some little vehemence, 
against the telepathic theory. 

The Martians wore no clothing. Their con- 
ceptions of ornament and decorum were neces- 
sarily different from ours ; and not only were 
they evidently much less sensible of changes 
of temperature than we are, but changes of 

211 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

pressure do not seem to have affected their 
health at all seriously. But if they wore no 
clothing, yet it was in the other artificial addi- 
tions to their bodily resources, certainly, that 
their great superiority over man lay. We men, 
with our bicycles and road-skates, our Lilien- 
thal soaring-machines, our guns and sticks, and 
so forth, are just in the beginning of the evo- 
lution that the Martians have worked out. 
They have become practically mere brains, 
wearing different bodies according to their 
needs, just as men wear suits of clothes, and 
take a bicycle in a hurry or an umbrella in the 
wet. And of their appliances, perhaps noth- 
ing is more wonderful to a man than the curi- 
ous fact that what is the dominant feature of 
almost all human devices in mechanism is 
absent — the wheel is absent ; among all the 
things they brought to earth there is no trace 
or suggestion of their use of wheels. One 
would have at least expected it in locomotion. 
And in this connection it is curious to remark 
that even on this earth Nature has never hit 
upon the wheel, or has preferred other expe- 
dients to its development. And not only did 
the Martians either not know of (which is in- 
credible), or abstain from, the wheel, but in 
their apparatus singularly little use is made 
of the fixed pivot, or relatively fixed pivot, 

212 



SEEN FROM THE RUINED HOUSE 

with circular motions thereabout confined 
to one plane. Almost all the joints of the 
machinery present a complicated system of 
sliding parts moving over small but beauti- 
fully curved friction bearings. And while 
upon this matter of detail, it is remarkable that 
the long leverages of their machines are in most 
cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature 
of disks in an elastic sheath ; these disks be- 
come polarized and drawn closely and power- 
fully together when traversed by a current of 
electricity. In this way the curious parallel- 
ism to animal motions, which was so striking 
and disturbing to the human beholder, was 
attained. Such quasi-muscles abounded in the 
crab-like handling-machine which, on my first 
peeping out of the slit, I watched unpacking 
the cylinder. It seemed infinitely more alive 
than the actual Martians lying beyond it in 
the sunset light, panting, stirring ineffectual 
tentacles, and moving feebly after their vast 
journey across space. 

While I was still watching their feeble mo- 
tions in the sunlight, and noting each strange 
detail of their form, the curate reminded me 
of his presence by pulling violently at my arm. 
I turned to a scowling face, and silent, eloquent 
lips. He wanted the slit, which permitted 
only one of us to peep through ; and so I had 

213 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

to forego watching them for a time while he 
enjoyed that privilege. 

When I looked again, the busy handling- 
machine had already put together several of 
the pieces of apparatus it had taken out of the 
cylinder into a shape having an unmistakable 
likeness to its own ; and down on the left a 
busy little digging mechanism had come into 
view, emitting jets of green vapor and work- 
ing its way round the pit, excavating and em- 
banking in a methodical and discriminating 
manner. This it was which had caused the 
regular beating noise, and the rhythmic shocks 
that had kept our ruinous refuge quivering. It 
piped and whistled as it worked. So far as I 
could see, the thing was without a directing 
Martian at all. 



Ill 

THE DAYS OF IMPRISONMENT 

The arrival of a second fighting - machine 
drove us from our peep-hole into the scullery, 
for we feared that from his elevation the 
Martian might see down upon us behind our 
barrier. At a later date we began to feel less 
in danger of their eyes, for to an eye in the 
dazzle of the sunlight outside our refuge must 
have seemed a blind of blackness, but at first 
the slightest suggestion of approach drove us 
into the scullery in heart - throbbing retreat. 
Yet, terrible as was the danger we incurred, 
the attraction of peeping was for both of us 
irresistible. And I recall now with a sort of 
wonder that, in spite of the infinite danger in 
which we were between starvation and a still 
more terrible death, we could yet struggle 
bitterly for that horrible privilege of sight. 
We would race across the kitchen in a gro- 
tesque way between eagerness and the dread 
of making a noise, and strike each other, and 
thrust and kick, within a few inches of exposure. 

215 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

The fact is that we had absolutely incom- 
patible dispositions and habits of thought and 
action, and our danger and insolation only ac- 
centuated the incompatibility. At Halliford I 
had already come to hate the curate's trick of 
helpless exclamation, his stupid rigidity of mind. 
His endless muttering monologue vitiated every 
effort I made to think out a line of action, and 
drove me at times, thus pent up and intensi- 
fied, almost to the verge of craziness. He was 
as lacking in restraint as a silly woman. He 
would weep for hours together, and I verily 
believe that to the very end this spoiled child 
of life thought his weak tears in some way effi- 
cacious. A.nd I would sit in the darkness un- 
able to keep my mind off him by reason of his 
importunities. He ate more than I did, and it 
was in vain I pointed out that our only chance 
of life was to stop in the house until the Mar- 
tians had done with their pit, that in that long 
patience a time might presently come when we 
should need food. He ate and drank impul- 
sively in heavy meals at long intervals. He 
slept little. 

As the days wore on, his utter carelessness 
of any consideration so intensified our distress 
and danger that I had, much as I loathed doing 
it, to resort to threats, and at last to blows. 
That brought him to reason for a time. But 

216 



THE DAYS OF IMPRISONMENT 

he was one of those weak creatures full of 
shifty cunning — who face neither God nor man, 
who face not even themselves, void of pride, 
timorous, anaemic, hateful souls. 

It is disagreeable for me to recall and write 
these things, but I set them down that my 
story may lack nothing. Those who have 
escaped the dark and terrible aspects of life 
will find my brutality, my flash of rage in our 
final tragedj^, easy enough to blame ; for they 
know what is wrong as well as any, but not 
what is possible to tortured men. But those 
who have been under the shadow, who have 
gone down at last to elemental things, will 
have a wider charity. 

And while within we fought out our dark, 
dim contest of whispers, snatched food and 
drink, and gripping hands and blows, without, 
in the pitiless sunlight of that terrible June, 
was the strange wonder, the unfamiliar routine 
of the Martians in the pit. Let me return to 
those first new experiences of mine. After a 
long time I ventured back to the peep-hole, to 
find that the new-comers had been reinforced 
by the occupants of no fewer than three of the 
fighting -machines. These last had brought 
with them certain fresh appliances that stood 
in an orderly manner about the cylinder. The 
second handling-machine was now completed, 

217 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

and was busied in serving one of the novel 
contrivances the big machine had brought. 
This was a body resembling a milk-can in its 
general form, above which oscillated a pear- 
shaped receptacle, and from which a stream 
of white powder flowed into a circular basin 
below. 

The oscillatory motion was imparted to this 
by one tentacle of the handling - machine. 
With two spatulate hands the handling -ma- 
chine was digging out and flinging masses of 
clay into the pear-shaped receptacle above, 
while with another arm it periodically opened 
a door and removed rusty and blackened clink- 
ers from the middle part of the machine. An- 
other steely tentacle directed the powder from 
the basin along a ribbed channel towards some 
receiver that was hidden from me by the mound 
of bluish dust. From this unseen receiver a 
little thread of green smoke rose vertically into 
the quiet air. As I looked, the handling- ma- 
chine, with a faint and musical clinking, ex- 
tended, telescopic fashion, a tentacle that had 
been a moment before a mere blunt projection, 
until its end was hidden behind the mound of 
clay. In another second it had lifted a bar of 
white aluminium into sight, untarnished as yet 
and shining dazzlingly, and deposited it in a 
growing stack of bars that stood at the side of 

2l8 



THE DAYS OF IMPRISONMENT 

the pit. Between sunset and starlight this 
dexterous machine must have made more than 
a hundred such bars out of the crude clay, and 
the mound of bluish dust rose steadily until it 
topped the side of the pit. 

The contrast between the swift and complex 
movements of these contrivances and the inert, 
panting clumsiness of their masters was acute, 
and for days I had to tell myself repeatedly 
that these latter were indeed the living of the 
two things. 

The curate had possession of the slit when 
the first men were brought to the pit. I 
was sitting below, huddled up, listening with 
all my ears. He made a sudden movement 
backward, and I, fearful that we were observed, 
crouched in a spasm of terror. He came slid- 
ing down the rubbish and crept beside me in 
the darkness, inarticulate, gesticulating, and 
for a moment I shared his terror. His gesture 
suggested a resignation of the slit, and after a 
little while my curiosity gave me courage, and 
I rose up, stepped across him, and clambered 
up to it. At first I could see no reason for his 
terror. The twilight had now come, the stars 
were little and faint, but the pit was illumi- 
nated by the flickering green fire that came 
from the aluminium making. The whole pict- 
ure was a flickering scheme of green gleams 

219 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

and shifting rusty black shadows, strangely 
trying to the eyes. Over and through it all 
went the bats, heeding it not at all. The 
sprawling Martians were no longer to be seen, 
the mound of blue-green powder had risen to 
cover them from sight, and a fighting-machine, 
with its legs contracted, crumpled, and abbre- 
viated, stood across the corner of the pit. And 
then, amid the clangor of the machinery, came 
a drifting suspicion of human voices, that I en- 
tertained at first only to dismiss. 

I crouched, watching this fighting-machine 
closely, satisfying myself now for the first time 
that the hood did indeed contain a Martian. 
As the green flames lifted I could see the oily 
gleam of his integument and the brightness of 
his eyes. And suddenly I heard a yell, and 
saw a long tentacle reaching over the shoulder 
of the machine to the little cage that hunched 
upon its back. Then something — something 
struggling violently — was lifted high against 
the sky, a black, vague enigma against the 
starlight; and as this black object came down 
again, I saw by the green brightness that it 
was a man. For an instant he was clearly vis- 
ible. He was a stout, ruddy, middle-aged man, 
well dressed ; three days before he must have 
been walking the world, a man of considerable 
consequence. I could see his staring eyes and 

220 



THE DAYS OF IMPRISONMENT 

gleams of light on his studs and watch-chain. 
He vanished behind the mound, and for a mo- 
ment there was silence. And then began a 
shrieking and a sustained and cheerful hooting 
from the Martians. 

I slid down the rubbish, struggled to my 
feet, clapped my hands over my ears, and 
bolted into the scullery. The curate, who had 
been crouching silently with his arms over his 
head, looked up as I passed, cried out quite 
loudly at my desertion of him, and came run- 
ning after me. 

That night, as we lurked in the scullery, 
balanced between our horror and the terrible 
fascination this peeping had, although I felt an 
urgent need of action, I tried in vain to con- 
ceive some plan of escape; but afterwards, 
during the second day, I was able to consider 
our position with great clearness. The curate, 
I found, was quite incapable of discussion ; 
strange terrors had already made him a creat- 
ure of violent impulses, had robbed him of 
reason or forethought. Practically he had 
already sunk to the level of an animal. But, 
as the saying goes, I gripped myself with both 
hands. It grew upon my mind, once I could 
face the facts, that, terrible as our position 
was, there was as yet no justification for abso- 
lute despair. Our chief chance lay in the posst 

221 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

bility of the Martians making the pit nothing 
more than a temporary encampment. Or even 
if they kept it permanently, they might not 
consider it necessary to guard it, and a chance 
of escape might be afforded us. I also weighed 
very carefully the possibility of our digging a 
way out in a direction away from the pit, but 
the chances of our emerging within sight of 
some sentinel fighting-machine seemed at first 
too great. And I should have had to do all the 
digging myself. The curate would certainly 
have failed me. 

It was on the third day, if my memory 
serves me right, that I saw the lad killed. It 
was the only occasion on which I actually 
saw the Martians feed. After that experience 
I avoided the hole in the wall for the better 
part of a day. I went into the scullery, re- 
moved the door, and spent some hours digging 
with my hatchet as silently as possible ; but 
when I had made a hole about a couple of 
feet deep the loose earth collapsed noisily, and 
I did not dare continue. I lost heart, and lay 
down on the scullery floor for a long time, hav- 
ing no spirit even to move. And after that I 
abandoned altogether the idea of escaping by 
excavation. 

It says much for the impression the Martians 
had made upon me that at first I entertained 

222 



THE DAYS OF IMPRISONMENT 

little or no hope of our escape being brought 
about by their overthrow through any human 
effort. But on the fourth or fifth night I heard 
a sound like heavy guns. 

It was very late in the night, and the moon 
was shining brightly. The Martians had taken 
away the excavating - machine, and, save for a 
fighting -machine that stood on the remoter 
bank of the pit, and a handling-machine that 
was busied out of my sight in a corner of the 
pit immediately beneath my peep-hole, the 
place was deserted by them. Except for the 
pale glow from the handling-machine, and the 
bars and patches of white moonlight, the pit 
was in darkness, and, except for the clinking of 
the handling-machine, quite still. That night 
was a beautiful serenity ; save for one planet, 
the moon seemed to have the sky to herself. I 
heard a dog howling, and that familiar sound 
it was that made me listen. Then I heard quite 
distinctly a booming exactly like the sound of 
great guns. Six distinct reports I counted, 
and after a long interval six again. And that 
was all. 



IV 

THE DEATH OF THE CURATE 

It was on the sixth day of our imprisonment 
that I peeped for the last time, and presently 
found myself alone. Instead of keeping close 
to me and trying to oust me from the slit, the 
curate had gone back into the scullery. I was 
struck by a sudden thought. I went back 
quickly and quietly into the scullery. In the 
darkness I heard the curate drinking. I 
snatched in the darkness, and my fingers caught 
a bottle of burgundy. 

For a few minutes there was a tussle. The 
bottle struck the floor and broke, and I desisted 
and rose. We stood panting, threatening each 
other. In the end I planted myself between 
him and the food, and told him of my deter- 
mination to begin a discipline. I divided the 
food in the pantry into rations to last us ten 
days. I would not let him eat any more that 
day. In the afternoon he made a feeble effort 
to get at the food. I had been dozing, but in 
an instant I was awake. All day and all night 

224 



THE DEATH OF THE CURATE 

we sat face to face,''! weary but resolute, and 
he weeping and complaining of his immediate 
hunger. It was, I know, a night and a day, but 
to me it seemed — it seems now — an intermi- 
nable length of time. 

And so our widened incompatibility ended 
at last in open conflict. For two vast days we 
struggled in undertones and wrestling contests. 
There were times when I beat and kicked him 
madly, times when I cajoled and persuaded 
him, and once I tried to bribe him with the last 
bottle of burgundy, for there was a rain-water 
pump from which I could get water. But 
neither force nor kindness availed ; he was 
indeed beyond reason. He would neither de- 
sist from his attacks on the food nor from his 
noisy babbling to himself. The rudimentary 
precautions to keep our imprisonment endur- 
able he would not observe. Slowly I began to 
realize the complete overthrow of his intelli- 
gence, to perceive that my sole companion in 
this close and sickly darkness was a man insane. 

From certain vague memories I am inclined 
to think my own mind wandered at times. I 
had strange and hideous dreams whenever I 
slept. It sounds strange, but I am inclined to 
think that the weakness and insanity of the 
curate warned me, braced me, and kept me a 
sane man. 

p 225 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

On the eighth day he began to talk aloud 
instead of whispering, and nothing I could do 
would moderate his speech. 

" It is just, O God !" he would say, over and 
over again. " It is just. On me and mine be 
the punishment laid. We have sinned, we 
have fallen short. There was poverty, sorrow ; 
the poor were trodden in the dust, and I held 
my peace. I preached acceptable folly — my 
God, what folly ! — when I should have stood 
up, though I died for it, and called upon them 
to repent — repent ! . . . Oppressors of the poor 
and needy! . . . The wine-press of God !" 

Then he would suddenly revert to the matter 
of the food I withheld from him, praying, beg- 
ging, weeping, at last threatening. He began 
to raise his voice — I prayed him not to. He 
perceived a hold on me — he threatened he 
would shout and bring the Martians upon us. 
For a time that scared me ; but any concession 
would have shortened our chance of escape 
beyond estimating. I defied him, although I 
felt no assurance that he might not do this 
thing. But that day, at any rate, he did not. 
He talked, with his voice rising slowly, through 
the greater part of the eighth and ninth days — 
threats, entreaties, mingled with a torrent of 
half-sane and always frothy repentance for his 
vacant sham of God's service, such as made me 

226 



THE DEATH OF THE CURATE 

pity him. Then he slept awhile, and began 
again with renewed strength, so loudly that I 
must needs make him desist. 

"Be still !" I implored. 

He rose to his knees, for he had been sitting 
in the darkness near the copper. 

" I have been still too long,'* he said, in a tone 
that must have reached the pit, " and now I 
must bear my witness. Woe unto this unfaith- 
ful city ! Woe ! woe ! Woe ! woe ! woe ! to 
the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the 
other voices of the trumpet — " 

"Shut up !" I said, rising to my feet, and in 
a terror lest the Martians should hear us. 
"For God's sake—" 

" Nay !" shouted the curate, at the top of 
his voice, standing likewise and extending his 
arms. " Speak ! The word of the Lord is 
upon me !" 

In three strides he was at the door leading 
into the kitchen. 

" I must bear my witness ! I go ! It has 
already been too long delayed." 

I put out my hand and felt the meat-chopper 
hanging to the wall. In a flash I was after 
him. I was fierce with fear. Before he was 
half-way across the kitchen I had overtaken 
him. With one last touch of humanity I turned 
the blade back and struck him with the butt. 

227 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

He went headlong forward and lay stretched 
on the ground. I stumbled over him and 
stood panting. He lay still. 

Suddenly I heard a noise without, the run 
and smash of slipping plaster, and the trian- 
gular aperture in the wall was darkened. I 
looked up and saw the lower surface of a hand- 
ling-machine coming slowly across the hole. 
One of its gripping limbs curled amid the de- 
bris ; another limb appeared, feeling its way 
over the fallen beams. I stood petrified, star- 
ing. Then I saw through a sort of glass plate 
near the edge of the body the face, as we may 
call it, and the large dark eyes of a Martian, 
peering, and then a long metallic snake of 
tentacle came feeling slowly through the 
hole. 

I turned by an effort, stumbled over the 
curate, and stopped at the scullery door. The 
tentacle was now some way, two yards or 
more, in the room, and twisting and turning, 
with queer sudden movements, this way and 
that. For a while I stood fascinated by that 
slow, fitful advance. Then, with a faint, hoarse 
cry, I forced myself across the scullery. I 
trembled violently ; I could scarcely stand up- 
right. I opened the door of the coal-cellar, 
and stood there in the darkness staring at the 
faintly lit door-way into the kitchen, and lis- 

228 



THE DEATH OF THE CURATE 

tening. Had the Martian seen me? What 
was it doing now ? 

Something was moving to and fro there, 
very quietly ; every now and then it tapped 
against the wall, or started on its movements 
with a faint metallic ringing, like the move- 
ment of keys on a split-ring. Then a heavy 
body — I knew too well what — was dragged 
across the floor of the kitchen towards the 
opening. Irresistibly attracted, I crept to the 
door and peeped into the kitchen. In the tri- 
angle of bright outer sunlight I saw the Mar- 
tian, in its Briareus of a handling - machine, 
scrutinizing the curate's head. I thought at 
once that it would infer my presence from the 
mark of the blow I had given him. 

I crept back to the coal-cellar, shut the door, 
and began to cover myself up as much as I 
could, and as noiselessly as possible, in the 
darkness, among the firewood and coal therein. 
Every now and then I paused, rigid, to hear if 
the Martian had thrust its tentacle through 
the opening again. 

Then the faint metallic jingle returned. I 
traced it slowly feeling over the kitchen. Pres- 
ently I heard it nearer — in the scullery, as I 
judged. I thought that its length might be 
insufficient to reach me. I prayed copiously. 
It passed, scraping faintly across the cellar 

229 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

door. An age of almost intolerable suspense 
intervened ; then I heard it fumbling at the 
latch. It had found the door ! The Martian 
understood doors ! 

It worried at the catch for a minute, perhaps, 
and then the door opened. 

In the darkness I could just see the thing — 
like an elephant's trunk more than anything 
else — waving towards me and touching and 
examining the wall, coals, wood, and ceiling. 
It was like a black worm swaying its blind 
head to and fro. 

Once, even, it touched the heel of my boot. 
I was on the verge of screaming ; I bit my 
hand. For a time it was silent. I could have 
fancied it had been withdrawn. Presently, 
with an abrupt click, it gripped something — 
I thought it had me ! — and seemed to go out 
of the cellar again. For a minute I was not 
sure. Apparently, it had taken a lump of coal 
to examine. 

I seized the opportunity of slightly shifting 
my position, which had become cramped, and 
then listened. I whispered passionate prayers 
for safety. 

Then I heard the slow, deliberate sound 
creeping towards me again. Slowly, slowly it 
drew near, scratching against the walls and 
tapping the furniture. 

230 



THE DEATH OF THE CURATE 

While I was still doubtful, it rapped smartly 
against the cellar door and closed it. I heard 
it go into the pantry, and the biscuit-tins rat- 
tled and a bottle smashed, and then came a 
heavy bump against the cellar door. Then 
silence, that passed into an infinity of suspense. 

Had it gone ? 

At last I decided that it had. 

It came into the scullery no more ; but I lay 
all the tenth day, in the close darkness, buried 
among coals and firewood, not daring even to 
crawl out for the drink for which I craved. It 
was the eleventh day before I ventured so far 
from my security. 



THE STILLNESS 

My first act before I went into the pantry- 
was to fasten the door between the kitchen and 
the scullery. But the pantry was empty; every 
scrap of food had gone. Apparently, the Mar- 
tian had taken it all on the previous day. At 
that discovery I despaired for the first time. 
I took no food, or no drink either, on the 
eleventh or the twelfth day. 

At first my mouth and throat were parched, 
and my strength ebbed sensibly. I sat about 
in the darkness of the scullery, in a state of 
despondent wretchedness. My mind ran on 
eating. I thought I had become deaf, for the 
noises of movement I had been accustomed to 
hear from the pit ceased absolutely. I did not 
feel strong enough to crawl noiselessly to the 
peep-hole, or I would have gone there. 

On the twelfth day my throat was so painful 
that, taking the chance of alarming the Mar- 
tians, I attacked the creaking rain-water pump 
that stood by the sink, and got a couple of 

232 



THE STILLNESS 

glassfuls of blackened and tainted rain-water. 
I was greatly refreshed by this, and embol- 
dened by the fact that no inquiring tentacle 
followed the noise of my pumping. 

During these days, in a rambling, inconclu- 
sive way, I thought much of the curate and of 
the manner of his death. 

On the thirteenth day I drank some more 
water, and dozed and thought disjointedly of 
eating and of vague impossible plans of escape. 
Whenever I dozed I dreamt of horrible phan- 
tasms, of the death of the curate, or of sump- 
tuous dinners ; but, asleep or awake, I felt a 
keen pain that urged me to drink again and 
again. The light that came into the scullery 
was no longer gray, but red. To my dis- 
ordered imagination it seemed the color of 
blood. 

On the fourteenth day I went into the kitch- 
en, and I was surprised to find that the fronds 
of the red weed had grown right across the 
hole in the wall, turning the half-light of the 
place into a crimson-colored obscurity. 

It was early on the fifteenth day that I 
heard a curious, familiar sequence of sounds in 
the kitchen, and, listening, identified it as the 
snuffing and scratching of a dog. Going into 
the kitchen, I saw a dog's nose peering in 
through a break among the ruddy fronds. 

233 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

This greatly surprised me. At the scent of 
me he barked shortly. 

I thought if I could induce him to come into 
the place quietly I should be able, perhaps, 
to kill and eat him ; and, in any case, it would 
be advisable to kill him, lest his actions at- 
tracted the attention of the Martians. 

I crept forward, saying *' Good dog !" very 
softly ; but he suddenly withdrew his head and 
disappeared. 

I listened — I was not deaf — but certainly the 
pit was still. I heard a sound like the flutter 
of a bird^s wings, and a hoarse croaking, but 
that was all. 

For a long while I lay close to the peep-hole, 
but not daring to move aside the red plants 
that obscured it. Once or twice I heard a faint 
pitter - patter like the feet of the dog going 
hither and thither on the sand far below me, 
and there were more birdlike sounds, but that 
was all. At length, encouraged by the silence, 
I looked out. 

Except in the corner, where a multitude of 
crows hopped and fought over the skeletons of 
the dead the Martians had consumed, there 
was not a living thing in the pit. 

I stared about me, scarcely believing my 
eyes. All the machinery had gone. Save for 
the big mound of grayish-blue powder in one 

234 



THE STILLNESS 

corner, certain bars of aluminium in another, 
the black birds, and the skeletons of the killed, 
the place was merely an empty circular pit in 
the sand. 

Slowly I thrust myself out through the red 
weed, and stood upon the mound of rubble. 
I could see in any direction save behind me, to 
the north, and neither Martians nor sign of 
Martians were to be seen. The pit dropped 
sheerly from my feet, but a little way along 
the rubbish afforded a practicable slope to the 
summit of the ruins. My chance of escape had 
come. I began to tremble. 

I hesitated for some time, and then, in a gust 
of desperate resolution, and with a heart that 
throbbed violently, I scrambled to the top of 
the mound in which I had been buried so 
long. 

I looked about again. To the northward, 
too, no Martian was visible. 

When I had last seen this part of Sheen in 
the daylight it had been a straggling street of 
comfortable white and red houses, interspersed 
with abundant shady trees. Now I stood on a 
mound of smashed brickwork, clay, and gravel, 
over which spread a multitude of red cactus- 
shaped plants, knee-high, without a solitary 
terrestrial growth to dispute their footing. 
The trees near me were dead and brown, but 

235 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

further a network of red threads scaled the 
still living stems. 

The neighboring houses had all been wreck- 
ed, but none had been burned ; their walls 
stood, sometimes to the second story, with 
smashed windows and shattered doors. The 
red weed grew tumultuously in their roofless 
rooms. Below me was the great pit, with the 
crows struggling for its refuse. A number of 
other birds hopped about among the ruins. 
Far away I saw a gaunt cat slink crouchingly 
along a wall, but traces of men there were 
none. 

The day seemed, by contrast with my recent 
confinement, dazzlingly bright, the sky a glow- 
ing blue. A gentle breeze kept the red weed 
that covered every scrap of unoccupied ground 
gently swaying. And oh ! the sweetness of 
the air ! 



VI 

THE WORK OF FIFTEEN DAYS 

For some time I stood tottering on the 
mound regardless of my safety. Within that 
noisome den from which I had emerged I had 
thought with a narrow intensity only of our 
immediate security. I had not realized what 
had been happening to the world, had not 
anticipated this startling vision of unfamiliar 
things. I had expected to see Sheen in ruins 
— I found about me the landscape, weird and 
lurid, of another planet. 

For that moment I touched an emotion 
beyond the common range of men, yet one 
that the poor brutes we dominate know only 
too well. I felt as a rabbit might feel return- 
ing to his burrow and suddenly confronted by 
the work of a dozen busy navvies digging the 
foundations of a house. I felt the first inkling 
of a thing that presently grew quite clear in 
my mind, that oppressed me for many days, a 
sense of dethronement, a persuasion that I was 
no longer a master, but an animal among the 

237 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

animals, under the Martian heel. With us 
it would be as with them, to lurk and watch, 
to run and hide ; the fear and empire of man 
had passed away. 

But so soon as this strangeness had been 
realized it passed, and my dominant motive 
became the hunger of my long and dismal fast. 
In the direction away from the pit I saw, be- 
yond a red - covered wall, a patch of garden 
ground unburied. This gave me a hint, and I 
went knee-deep, and sometimes neck-deep, in 
the red weed. The density of the weed gave 
me a reassuring sense of hiding. The wall 
was some six feet high, and when I attempted 
to clamber it I found I could not lift my feet to 
the crest. So I went along by the side of it, 
and came to a corner and a rockwork that 
enabled me to get to the top and tumble into 
the garden I coveted. Here I found some 
young onions, a couple of gladiolus bulbs, and 
a quantity of immature carrots, all of which I 
secured, and, scrambling over a ruined wall, 
went on my way through scarlet and crimson 
trees towards Kew — it was like walking through 
an avenue of gigantic blood-drops — possessed 
with two ideas : to get more food, and to limp, 
as soon and as far as my strength permitted, 
out of this accursed unearthly region of the 
pit. 

238 



THE WORK OF FIFTEEN DAYS 

Some way farther, in a grassy place, was a 
group of mushrooms, which I also devoured, 
and then I came upon a brown sheet of flow- 
ing shallow water, where meadows used to be. 
These fragments of nourishment served only 
to whet my hunger. At first I was surprised 
at this flood in a hot, dry summer, but after- 
wards I discovered that this was caused by the 
tropical exuberance of the red weed. Directly 
this extraordinary growth encountered water 
it straightway became gigantic and of unparal- 
leled fecundity. Its seeds were simply poured 
down into the water of the Wey and Thames, 
and its swiftly growing and Titanic water- 
fronds speedily choked both these rivers. 

At Putney, as I afterwards saw, the bridge 
was almost lost in a tangle of this weed, and 
at Richmond, too, the Thames water poured 
in a broad and shallow stream across the mead- 
ows of Hampton and Twickenham, As the 
waters spread the weed followed them, until 
the ruined villas of the Thames valley were 
for a time lost in this red swamp, whose margin 
I explored, and much of the desolation the 
Martians had caused was concealed. 

In the end the red weed succumbed almost 
as quickly as it had spread. A cankering dis- 
ease, due, it is believed, to the action of certain 
bacteria, presently seized upon it. Now, by 

239 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

the action of natural selection, all terrestrial 
plants have acquired a resisting power against 
bacterial diseases — they never succumb with- 
out a severe struggle, but the red weed rotted 
like a thing already dead. The fronds became 
bleached, and then shrivelled and brittle. They 
broke off at the least touch, and the waters 
that had stimulated their early growth carried 
their last vestiges out to sea. 

My first act on coming to this water was, of 
course, to slake my thirst. I drank a great 
deal of it, and, moved by an impulse, gnawed 
some fronds of red weed, but they were watery, 
and had a sickly, metallic taste. I found the 
water was sufficiently shallow for me to wade 
securely, although the red weed impeded my 
feet a little ; but the flood evidently got deep- 
er towards the river, and I turned back tow- 
ards Mortlake. I managed to make out the 
road by means of occasional ruins of its villas 
and fences and lamps, and so presently I got 
out of this spate and made my way to the hill 
going up towards Roehampton and came out 
on Putney Common. 

Here the scenery changed from the strange 
and unfamiliar to the wreckage of the familiar : 
patches of ground exhibited the devastation of 
a cyclone, and in a few score yards I would 
come upon perfectly undisturbed spaces, houses 

240 



THE WORK OF FIFTEEN DAYS 

i?7ith their blinds trimly drawn and doors 
closed, as if they had been left for a day by the 
owners, or as if their inhabitants slept within. 
The red weed was less abundant ; the tall trees 
along the lane were free from the red creeper. 
I hunted for food among the trees, finding 
nothing, and I also raided a couple of silent 
houses, but they had already been broken into 
and ransacked. I rested for the remainder of 
the daylight in a shrubbery, being, in my en- 
feebled condition, too fatigued to push on. 

All this time I saw no human beings, and no 
signs of the Martians. I encountered a couple 
of hungry-looking dogs, but both hurried cir- 
cuitously away from the advances I made 
them. Near Roehampton I had seen two hu- 
man skeletons — not bodies, but skeletons, 
picked clean — and in the wood by me I found 
the crushed and scattered bones of several cats 
and rabbits and the skull of a sheep. But 
though I gnawed parts of these in my mouth, 
there was nothing to be got from them. 

After sunset I struggled on along the road 
towards Putney, where I think the Heat-Ray 
must have been used for some reason. And in 
a garden beyond Roehampton I got a quantity 
of immature potatoes, sufficient to stay my 
hunger. From this garden one looked down 
upon Putney and the river. The aspect of the 
Q 241 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

place in the dusk was singularly desolate : 
blackened trees, blackened, desolate ruins, and 
down the hill the sheets of the flooded river, 
red-tinged with the weed. And over all — 
silence. It filled me with indescribable terror 
to think how swiftly that desolating change 
had come. 

For a time I believed that mankind had been 
swept out of existence, and that I stood there 
alone, the last man left alive. Hard by the top 
of Putney Hill I came upon another skeleton, 
with the arms dislocated and removed several 
yards from the rest of the body. As I pro- 
ceeded I became more and more convinced 
that the extermination of mankind was,* save 
for such stragglers as myself, already accom- 
plished in this part of the world. The Mar- 
tians, I thought, had gone on and left the 
country desolated, seeking food elsewhere. 
Perhaps even now they were destroying Berlin 
or Paris, or it might be they had gone north- 
ward. 



VII 

THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

I SPENT that night in the inn that stands at 
the top of Putney Hill, sleeping in a made bed 
for the first time since my flight to Leather- 
head. I will not tell the needless trouble I had 
breaking into that house — afterwards I found 
the front door was on the latch — nor how I 
ransacked every room for food, until, just on 
the verge of despair, in what seemed to me to 
be a servant's bedroom, I found a rat-gnawed 
crust and two tins of pineapples. The place 
had been already searched and emptied. In 
the bar I afterwards found some biscuits and 
sandwiches that had been overlooked. The 
latter I could not eat, but the former not only 
stayed my hunger, but filled my pockets. I lit 
no lamps, fearing some Martian might come 
beating that part of London for food in the 
night. Before I went to bed I had an interval 
of restlessness, and prowled from window to 
window, peering out for some sign of these 
monsters. I slept little. As I lay in bed I found 

243 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

myself thinking consecutively — a thing I da 
not remember to have' done since my last 
argument with the curate. During all the in- 
tervening time my mental condition had been 
a hurrying succession of vague emotional 
states or a sort of stupid receptivity. But in 
the night my brain, reinforced, I suppose, by 
the food I had eaten, grew clear again, and I 
thought. 

Three things struggled for possession of my 
mind : the killing of the curate, the whereabouts 
of the Martians, and the possible fate of my 
wife. The former gave me no sensation of 
horror or remorse to recall ; I saw it simply as 
a thing done, a memory infinitely disagreeable, 
but quite without the quality of remorse. I 
saw myself then as I see myself now, driven 
step by step towards that hasty blow, the 
creature of a sequence of accidents leading 
inevitably to that. I felt no condemnation ; 
yet the memory, static, unprogressive, haunted 
me. In the silence of the night, with that sense 
of the nearness of God that sometimes comes 
into the stillness and the darkness, I stood my 
trial, my only trial, for that moment of wrath 
and fear. I retraced every step of our con- 
versation from the moment when I had found 
him crouching beside me, heedless of my thirst, 
and pointing to the fire and smoke that stream- 

244 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

ed up from the ruins of Weybridge. We had 
been incapable of co-operation — grim chance 
had taken no heed of that. Had I foreseen, I 
should have left him at Halliford. But I did 
not foresee ; and crime is to foresee and do. 
And I set this down as I have set all this story 
down, as it was. There were no witnesses — 
all these things I might have concealed. But 
I set it down, and the reader must form his 
judgment as he will. 

And when, by an effort, I had set aside that 
picture of a prostrate body, I faced the prob- 
lem of the Martians and the fate of my wife. 
For the former I had no data ; I could imagine 
a hundred things, and so, unhappily, I could 
for the latter. And suddenly that night be- 
came terrible. I found myself sitting up in 
bed, staring at the dark. I found myself pray- 
ing that the Heat - Ray might have suddenly 
and painlessly struck her out of being. Since 
the night of my return from Leatherhead I had 
not prayed. I had uttered prayers, fetich pray- 
ers, had prayed as heathens mutter charms 
when I was in extremity ; but now I prayed 
indeed, pleading steadfastly and sanely, face 
to face with the darkness of God. Strange 
night ! strangest in this, that so soon as dawn 
had come, I, who had talked with God, crept 
out of the house like a rat leaving its hiding- 

245 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

place — a creature scarcely larger, an inferior an- 
imal, a thing that for any passing whim of our 
masters might be hunted and killed. Perhaps 
they also prayed confidently to God. Surely, 
if we have learned nothing else, this war has 
taught us pity — pity for those witless souls 
that suffer our dominion. 

The morning was bright and fine, and the 
eastern sky glowed pink, and was fretted with 
little golden clouds. In the road that runs 
from the top of Putney Hill to Wimbledon 
was a number of pitiful vestiges of the panic 
torrent that must have poured Londonward 
on the Sunday night after the fighting began. 
There was a little two-wheeled cart inscribed 
with the name of Thomas Lobb, Green-grocer, 
New Maiden, with a smashed wheel and an 
abandoned tin trunk ; there was a straw hat 
trampled into the now hardened mud, and at 
the top of West Hill a lot of blood-stained 
glass about the overturned water-trough. My 
movements were languid, my plans of the 
vaguest. I had an idea of going to Leather- 
head, though I knew that there I had the 
poorest chance of finding my wife. Certainly, 
unless death had overtaken them suddenly, 
my cousins and she would have fled thence ; 
but it seemed to me I might find or learn 
there whither the Surrey people had fled. I 

246 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

knew I wanted to find my wife, that my heart 
ached for her and the world of men, but I had 
no clear idea how the finding might be done. 
I was also clearly aware now of my intense 
loneliness. From the corner I went, under 
cover of a thicket of trees and bushes, to the 
edge of Wimbledon Common, stretching wide 
and far. 

That dark expanse was lit in patches by 
yellow gorse and broom ; there was no red 
weed to be seen, and as I prowled, hesitating, 
on the verge of the open, the sun rose, flood- 
ing it all with light and vitality. I came upon 
a busy swarm of little frogs in a swampy place 
among the trees. I stopped to look at them, 
drawing a lesson from their stout resolve to 
live. And presently, turning suddenly, with 
an odd feeling of being watched, I beheld 
something crouching amid a clump of bushes. 
I stood regarding this. I made a step towards 
it, and it rose up and became a man armed 
with a cutlass. I approached him slowly. He 
stood silent and motionless, regarding me. 

As I drew nearer I perceived he was dressed 
in clothes as dusty and filthy as my own ; he 
looked, indeed, as though he had been dragged 
through a culvert. Nearer, I distinguished the 
green slime of ditches mixing with the pale 
drab of dried clay and shiny, coaly patches. 

247 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

His black hair fell over his eyes, and his face 
was dark and dirty and sunken, so that at first 
I did not recognize him. There was a red cut 
across the lower part of his face. 

" Stop !** he cried, when I was within ten 
yards of him, and I stopped. His voice was 
hoarse. " Where do you come from ?" he said. 

I thought, surveying him. 

" I come from Mortlake," I said. ^* I was buried 
near the pit the Martians made about their cyl- 
inder. I have worked my way out and escaped." 

"There is no food about here," he said. 
"This is my country. All this hill down to 
the river, and back to Clapham, and up to the 
edge of the common. There is only food for 
one. Which way are you going ?" 

I answered slowly. 

" I don't know," I said. " I have been buried 
in the ruins of a house thirteen or fourteen 
days. I don't know what has happened." 

He looked at me doubtfully, then started, 
and looked with a changed expression. 

"I've no wish to stop about here," said I. 
"I think I shall go to Leatherhead, for my 
wife was there." 

He shot out a pointing finger. 

"It is you," said he — "the man from Wo- 
king. And you weren't killed at Weybridge ?" 

I recognized him at the same moment. 

248 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

"You are the artilleryman who came into 
my garden." 

" Good-luck !" he said. " We are lucky ones ! 
FB.ncy you/" He put out a hand, and I took 
it. "I crawled up a drain," he said. "But 
they didn't kill every one. And after they 
went away I got off towards Walton across the 
fields. But — It's not sixteen days altogether 
— and your hair is gray." He looked over his 
shoulder suddenly. '* Only a rook," he said. 
"One gets to know that birds have shadows 
these days. This ts a bit open. Let us crawl 
under those bushes and talk." 

" Have you seen any Martians ?" I said. 
" Since I crawled out — " 

" They've gone away across London," he said. 
" I guess they've got a bigger camp there. Of 
a night, all over there, Hampstead way, the 
sky is alive with their lights. It's like a great 
city, and in the glare you can just see them 
moving. By daylight you can't. But nearer 
—I haven't seen them — " (he counted on his 
fingers) " five days. Then I saw a couple across 
Hammersmith way carrying something big. 
And the night before last " — he stopped and 
spoke impressively — "it was just a matter of 
lights, but it was something up in the air. I 
believe they've built a flying-machine, and are 
learning to fly." 

249 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

I stopped, on hands and knees, for we had 
come to the bushes. 

" Fly !" 

"Yes," he said, *^ fly." 

I went on into a little bower, and sat down. 

"It is all over with humanity," I said. "If 
they can do that they will simply go round the 
world." 

He nodded. 

"They will. But — It will relieve things 
over here a bit. And besides — " He looked 
at me. " Aren*t you satisfied it is up with hu- 
manity ? I am. We're down ; we're beat." 

I stared. Strange as it may seem, I had not 
arrived at. this fact — a fact perfectly obvious 
so soon as he spoke. I had still held a vague 
hope; rather, I had kept a lifelong habit of 
mind. He repeated his words, " We're beat." 
They carried absolute conviction. 

" It's all over," he said. " They've lost one— 
just one. And they've made their footing good 
and crippled the greatest power in the world. 
They've walked over us. The death of that 
one at Weybridge was an accident. And these 
are only pioneers. They keep on coming. 
These green stars — I've seen none these five 
or six days, but I've no doubt they're falling 
somewhere every night. Nothing's to be done. 
We're under ! We're beat !" 

, 250 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

I made him no answer. I sat staring before 
me, trying in vain to devise some countervail- 
ing thought. 

"This isn*t a war," said the artilleryman. 
" It never was a war, any more than there's 
war between men and ants.** 

Suddenly I recalled the night in the observa- 
tory. 

" After the tenth shot they fired no more — 
at least, until the first cylinder came." 

" How do you know ?" said the artilleryman. 
I explained. He thought. " Something wrong 
with the gun," he said. " But what if there is ? 
They'll get it right again. And even if there's 
a delay, how can it alter the end ? It's just 
men and ants. There's the ants builds their 
cities, live their lives, have wars, revolutions, 
until the men want them out of the way, and 
then they go out of the way. That's what we 
are now — just ants. Only — " 

"Yes," I said. 

" We're eatable ants." 

We sat looking at each other. 

" And what will they do with us ?" I said. 

"That's what I've been thinking," he said — 
" that's what I've been thinking. After Wey- 
bridge I went south — thinking. I saw what 
was up. Most of the people were hard at it 
squealing and exciting themselves. But I'm 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

not so fond of squealing. IVe been in sight 
of death once or twice ; I*m not an ornamen- 
tal soldier, and at the best and worst, death 
— it's just death. And it's the man that keeps 
on thinking comes through. I saw every one 
tracking away south. Says I, * Food won't last 
this way,' and I turned right back. I went 
for the Martians like a sparrow goes for man. 
All round " — he waved a hand to the horizon — 
"they're starving in heaps, bolting, treading 
on each other." . . . 

He saw my face, and halted awkwardly. 

"No doubt lots who had money have gone 
away to France," he said. He seemed to hesitate 
whether to apologize, met my eyes, and went 
on : " There's food all about here. Canned 
things in shops ; wines, spirits, mineral waters ; 
and the water mains and drains are empty. 
Well, I was telling you what I was thinking. 
* Here's intelligent things,' I said, ' and it seems 
they want us for food. First, they'll smash us 
up — ships, machines, guns, cities, all the order 
and organization. All that will go. If we 
were the size of ants we might pull through. 
But we're not. It's all too bulky to stop. 
That's the first certainty.' Eh ?" 

I assented. 

" It is ; I've thought it out. Very well, then — 
next ; at present we're caught as we're wanted. 

252 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

A Martian has only to go a few miles to get a 
crowd on the run. And I saw one, one day, 
out by Wandsworth, picking houses to pieces 
and routing among the wreckage. But they 
won't keep on doing that. So soon as they've 
settled all our guns and ships, and smashed 
our railways, and done all the things they are 
doing over there, they will begin catching us 
systematic, picking the best and storing us in 
cages and things. That's what they will start 
doing in a bit. Lord ! they haven't begun on 
us yet. Don't you see that ?" 

"Not begun !" I exclaimed. 

" Not begun. All that's happened so far is 
through our not having the sense to keep quiet 
— worrying them with guns and such foolery. 
And losing our heads, and rushing off in crowds 
to where there wasn't any more safety than 
where we were. They don't want to bother us 
yet. They're making their things — making all 
the things they couldn't bring with them, get- 
ting things ready for the rest of their people. 
Very likely that's why the cylinders have 
stopped for a bit, for fear of hitting those who 
are here. And instead of our rushing about 
blind, on the howl, or getting dynamite on the 
chance of busting them up, we've got to fix 
ourselves up according to the new state of 
affairs. That's how I figure it out. It isn't 

253 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

quite according to what a man wants for his 
species, but it's about what the facts point to. 
And that's the principle I acted upon. Cities, 
nations, civilization, progress — it's all over. 
That game's up. We're beat." 

" But if that is so, what is there to live for ?" 

The artilleryman looked at me for a mo- 
ment. 

"There won't be any more blessed concerts 
for a million years or so ; there won't be any 
Royal Academy of Arts, and no nice little feeds 
at restaurants. If it's amusement you're after, 
I reckon the game is up. If you've got any 
drawing-room manners or a dislike to eating 
peas with a knife or dropping aitches, you'd 
better chuck 'em away. They ain't no further 
use." 

" You mean — " 

"I mean that men like me are going on 
living — for the sake of the breed. I tell you, 
I'm grim set on living. And if I'm not mis- 
taken, you'll show what insides you've got, too, 
before long. We aren't going to be exter- 
minated. And I don't mean to be caught, 
either, and tamed and fattened and bred like 
a thundering ox. Ugh ! Fancy those brown 
creepers !" 

" You don't mean to say — " 

**I do. I'm going on. Under their feet. 

254 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

I've got it planned ; I've thought it out. We 
men are beat. We don't know enough. We've 
got to learn before we've got a chance. And 
we've got to live and keep independent while 
we learn. See ! That's what has to be done." 

I stared, astonished, and stirred profoundly 
by the man's resolution. 

" Great God !" cried I. " But you are a man, 
indeed !" And suddenly I gripped his hand. 

^' Eh !" he said, with his eyes shining. '' I've 
thought it out, eh ?" 

" Go on," I said. 

" Well, those who mean to escape their catch- 
ing must get ready. I'm getting ready. Mind 
you, it isn't all of us that are made for wild 
beasts ; and that's what it's got to be. That's 
why I watched you. I had my doubts. You're 
slender. I didn't know that it was you, you 
see, or just how you'd been buried. All 
these — the sort of people that lived in these 
houses, and all those damn little clerks that 
used to live down that way — they'd be no 
good. They haven't any spirit in them — no 
proud dreams and no proud lusts ; and a man 
who hasn't one or the other — Lord ! what is he 
but funk and precautions? They just used to 
skedaddle off to work — I've seen hundreds of 
'em, bit of breakfast in hand, running wild and 
shining to catch their little season-ticket train,. 

255 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

for fear they'd get dismissed if they didn't ; 
working at businesses they were afraid to take 
the trouble to understand ; skedaddling back 
for fear they wouldn't be in time for dinner ; 
keeping in-doors after dinner for fear of the 
back streets, and sleeping with the wives they 
married, not because they wanted them, but 
because they had a bit of money that would 
make for safety in their one little miserable 
skedaddle through the world. Lives insured 
and a bit invested for fear of accidents. And 
on Sundays — fear of the hereafter. As if hell 
was built for rabbits ! Well, the Martians will 
just be a godsend to these. Nice roomy cages, 
fattening food, careful breeding, no worry. 
After a week or so chasing about the fields and 
lands on empty stomachs, they'll come and be 
caught cheerful. They'll be quite glad after a 
bit. They'll wonder what people did before 
there were Martians to take care of them. 
And the bar-loafers, and mashers, and singers 
— I can imagine them. I can imagine them," 
he said, with a sort of sombre gratification. 
** There'll be any amount of sentiment and 
religion loose among them. There's hundreds 
of things I saw with my eyes that I've only 
begun to see clearly these last few days. 
There's lots will take things as they are — fat 
and stupid ; and lots will be worried by a sort 

256 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

of feeling that it's all wrong, and that they 
ought to be doing something. Now, when- 
ever things are so that a lot of people feel 
they ought to be doing something, the weak, 
and those who go weak with a lot of compli- 
cated thinking, always make for a sort of do- 
nothing religion, very pious and superior, and 
submit to persecution and the will of the Lord. 
Very likely you've seen the same thing. It's 
energy in a gale of funk, and turned clean in- 
side out. These cages will be full of psalms and 
hymns and piety. And those of a less simple sort 
will work in a bit of — what is it ? — eroticism." 

He paused. 

"Very likely these Martians will make pets 
of some of them ; train them to do tricks — 
who knows ? — get sentimental over the pet boy 
who grew up and had to be killed. And some, 
maybe, they will train to hunt us." 

" No," I cried, " that's impossible ! No hu- 
man being — " 

** What's the good of going on with such 
lies ?" said the artilleryman. " There's men 
who'd do it cheerful. What nonsense to pre- 
tend there isn't !" 

And I succumbed to his conviction. 

"If they come after me," he said — "Lord! 
if they come after me !" and subsided into a 
grim meditation. 

R 257 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

I sat contemplating these things. I could 
find nothing to bring against this man's rea- 
soning. In the days before the invasion no 
one would have questioned my intellectual su- 
periority to his — I, a professed and recognized 
writer on philosophical themes, and he, a com- 
mon soldier ; and yet he had already formu- 
lated a situation that I had scarcely realized. 

"What are you doing?" I said, presently. 
"What plans have you made?" 

He hesitated. 

"Well, it's like this," he said. "What have 
we to do? We have to invent a sort of life 
where men can live and breed, and be suffi- 
ciently secure to bring the children up. Yes 
— wait a bit, and I'll make it clearer what I 
think ought to be done. The tame ones will 
go like all tame beasts ; in a few generations 
they'll be big, beautiful, rich-blooded, stupid — 
rubbish ! The risk is that we who keep wild 
will go savage — degenerate into a sort of big, 
savage rat. . . . You see, how I mean to live 
is underground. I've been thinking about the 
drains. Of course, those who don't know drains 
think horrible things ; but under this London 
are miles and miles — hundreds of miles — and 
a few days' rain and London empty will leave 
them sweet and clean. The main drains are 
big enough and airy enough for any one. Then 

258 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

there's cellars, vaults, stores, from which bolt- 
ing passages may be made to the drains. And 
the railway tunnels and subways. Eh ? You 
begin to see ? And we form a band — able- 
bodied, clean - minded men. We're not going 
to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weak- 
lings go out again." 

" As you meant me to go ?" 
"Well— I parleyed, didn't I?" 
"We won't quarrel about that. Go on." 
" Those who stop obey orders. Able-bodied, 
clean-minded women we want also — mothers 
and teachers. No lackadaisical ladies — no 
blasted rolling eyes. We can't have any weak 
or silly. Life is real again, and the useless 
and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. 
They ought to die. They ought to be willing 
to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to 
live and taint the race. And they can't be 
happy. Moreover, dying's none so dreadful ; 
it's the funking makes it bad. And in all those 
places we shall gather. Our district will be 
London. And we may even be able to keep a 
watch, and run about in the open when the 
Martians keep away. ' Play cricket, perhaps. 
That's how we shall save the race. Eh ? It's 
a possible thing ? But saving the race is noth- 
ing in itself. As I say, that's only being rats. 
It's saving our knowledge and adding to it is 

259 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

the thing. There men like you come in. 
There's books, there's models. We must make 
great safe places down deep, and get all the 
books we can ; not novels and poetry swipes, 
but ideas, science books. That's where men 
like you come in. We must go to the British 
Museum and pick all those books through. 
Especially we must keep up our science — learn 
more. We must watch these Martians. Some 
of us must go as spies. When it's all working, 
perhaps I will. Get caught, I mean. And the 
great thing is, we must leave the Martians 
alone. We mustn't even steal. If we get in 
their way, we clear out. We must show them 
we mean no. harm. Yes, I know. But they're 
intelligent things, and they won't hunt us 
down if they have all they want, and think 
we're just harmless vermin." 

The artilleryman paused and laid a brown 
hand upon my arm. 

"After all, it may not be so much we may 
have to learn before — Just imagine this: 
Four or five of their fighting-machines sudden- 
ly starting off — Heat-Rays right and left, and 
not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, 
but men — men who have learned the way how. 
It may be in my time, even — those men. Fancy 
having one of them lovely things, with its 
Heat-Ray wide and free ! Fancy having it in 

260 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

control ! What would it matter if you smashed 
to smithereens at the end of the run, after a 
bust like that ? I reckon the Martians '11 open 
their beautiful eyes ! Can't you see them, man ? 
Can't you see them hurrying, hurrying — puff- 
ing and blowing and hooting to their other 
mechanical affairs ? Something out of gear in 
every case. And swish, bang, rattle, swish ! 
just as they are fumbling over it, swish comes 
the Heat -Ray, and, behold! man has come 
back to his own." 

For a while the imaginative daring of the 
artilleryman, and the tone of assurance and 
courage he assumed, completely dominated my 
mind. I believed unhesitatingly both in his 
forecast of human destiny and in the practica- 
bility of his astonishing scheme, and the read- 
er who thinks me susceptible and foolish must 
contrast his position, reading steadily, with all 
his thoughts about his subject, and mine, 
crouching fearfully in the bushes and listening, 
distracted by apprehension. We talked in this 
manner through the early morning time, and 
later crept out of the bushes, and, after scan- 
ning the sky for Martians, hurried precipi- 
tately to the house on Putney Hill where he 
had made his lair. It was the coal-cellar of the 
place, and when I saw the work he had spent a 
week upon — it was a burrow scarcely ten yards 

261 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

long, which he designed to reach to the main 
drain on Putney Hill — I had my first inkling 
of the gulf between his dreams and his powers. 
Such a hole I could have dug in a day. But I 
believed in him sufficiently to work with him 
all that morning until past mid-day at his dig- 
ging. We had a garden-barrow and shot the 
earth we removed against the kitchen range. 
We refreshed ourselves with a tin of mock- 
turtle soup and wine from the neighboring 
pantry. I found a curious relief from the ach- 
ing strangeness of the world in this steady 
labor. As we worked, I turned his project 
over in my mind, and presently objections and 
doubts began to arise ; but I worked there all 
the morning, so glad was I to find myself with 
a purpose again. After working an hour I 
began to speculate on the distance one had to 
go before the cloaca was reached, the chances 
we had of missing it altogether. My imme- 
diate trouble was why we should dig this long 
tunnel, when it was possible to get into the 
drain at once down one of the manholes, and 
work back to the house. It seemed to me, too, 
that the house was inconveniently chosen, and 
required a needless length of tunnel. And just 
as I was beginning to face these things, the ar- 
tilleryman stopped digging, and looked at me« 
"We're working well," he said. He put 

262 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

down his spade. " Let us knock off a bit," he 
said. ^* I think it's time we reconnoitred from 
the roof of the house." 

I was for going on, and after a little hesita- 
tion he resumed his spade ; and then suddenly 
X was struck by a thought. I stopped, and so 
did he at once. 

" Why were you walking about the Com- 
mon," I said, '' instead of being here ?" 

'' Taking the air," he said. '' I was coming 
back. It's safer by night." 

'' But the work ?" 

*^ Oh, one can't always work," he said, and in 
a flash I saw the man plain. He hesitated, 
holding his spade. '* We ought to reconnoitre 
now," he said, " because if any come near they 
may hear the spades and drop upon us una- 
wares." 

I was no longer disposed to object. We 
went together to the roof and stood on a lad- 
der peeping out of the roof door. No Martians 
were to be seen, and we ventured out on the 
tiles, and slipped down under shelter of the 
parapet. 

From this position a shrubbery hid the 
greater portion of Putney, but we could see 
the river below, a bubbly m.ass of red weed, 
and the low parts of Lambeth flooded and red. 
The red creeper swarmed up the trees about 

26 J 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

the old palace, and their branches stretched 
gaunt and dead, and set with shrivelled leaves, 
from amid its clusters. It was strange how 
entirely dependent both these things were 
upon flowing water for their propagation. 
About us neither had gained a footing ; labur- 
nums, pink mays, snowballs, and trees of arbor- 
vitae, rose out of laurels and hydrangeas, green 
and brilliant, into the sunlight. Beyond Ken- 
sington dense smoke was rising, and that and 
a blue haze hid the northwarrd hills. 

The artilleryman began to tell me of the 
sort of people who still remained in Lon- 
don. 

**One night last week," he said, "some fools 
got the electric light in order, and there was all 
Regent's Street and the Circus ablaze, crowded 
with painted and ragged drunkards, men and 
women, dancing and shouting till dawn. A 
man who was there told me. And as the day 
came they beheld a fighting-machine standing 
near by the Langham and looking down at 
them. Heaven knows how long he had been 
there. He came down the road towards them, 
and picked up nearly a hundred too drunk or 
frightened to run away." 

Grotesque gleam of a time no history will 
ever fully describe ! 

From that, in answer to my questions, he 

264 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

came round to his grandiose plans again. He 
grew enthusiastic. He talked so eloquently of 
the possibility of capturing a fighting-machine 
that I more than half believed in him again. 
But now that I was beginning to understand 
something of his quality, I could divine the 
stress he laid on doing nothing precipitately. 
And I noted that now there was no question 
that he personally was to capture and fight the 
great machine. 

After a time we went down to the cellar. 
Neither of us seemed disposed to resume dig- 
ging, and when he suggested a meal,, I was 
nothing loath. He became suddenly very 
generous, and when we had eaten he went 
away and returned with some excellent cigars. 
We lit these, and his optimism glowed. He 
was inclined to regard my coming as a great 
occasion. 

"There's some champagne in the cellar," he 
said. 

" We can dig better on this Thames - side 
burgundy," said I. 

" No," said he ; ''I am host to-day. Cham- 
pagne ! Great God ! we've a heavy enough 
task before us ! Let us take a rest and gath- 
er strength while we may. Look at these blis- 
tered hands 1" 

And pursuant to this idea of a holiday, he 

265 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

insisted upon playing cards after we had eaten. 
He taught me euchre, and after dividing Lon- 
don between us, I taking the northern side 
and he the southern, we played for parish 
points. Grotesque and foolish as this will seem 
to the sober reader, it is absolutely true, and, 
what is more remarkable, I found the card 
game and several others we played extremely 
interesting. 

Strange mind of man ! that, with our species 
upon the edge of extermination or appalling 
degradation, with no clear prospect before us 
but the chance of a horrible death, we could 
sit following the chance of this painted paste- 
board, and playing the ^' joker '* with vivid de- 
light. Afterwards he taught me poker, and I 
beat him at three tough chess games. When 
dark came we decided to take the risk, and lit 
a lamp. 

After an interminable string of games, we 
supped, and the artilleryman finished the cham- 
pagne. We continued smoking the cigars. He 
was no longer the energetic regenerator of his 
species I had encountered in the morning. He 
was still optimistic, but it was a less kinetic, a 
more thoughtful optimism. I remember he 
wound up with my health, proposed in a speech 
of small variety and considerable intermittence. 
I took a cigar, and went up -stairs to look at 

266 



THE MAN ON PUTNEY HILL 

the lights of which he had spoken, that blazed 
so greenly along the Highgate hills. 

At first I stared unintelligently across the 
London valley. The northern hills were 
shrouded in darkness ; the fires near Kensing- 
ton glowed redly, and now and then an orange- 
red tongue of flame flashed up and vanished in 
the deep blue night. All the rest of London 
was black. Then, nearer, I perceived a strange 
light, a pale, violet - purple fluorescent glow, 
quivering under the night breeze. For a space 
I could not understand it, and then I knew that 
it must be the red weed from v/hich this faint 
irradiation proceeded. With that realization 
my dormant sense of wonder, my sense of the 
proportion of things, awoke again. I glanced 
from that to Mars, red and clear, glowing high 
in the west, and then gazed long and earnestly 
at the darkness of Hampstead and Highgate. 

I remained a very long time upon the roof, 
wondering at the grotesque changes of the day. 
I recalled m.y mental states from the midnight 
prayer to the foolish card-playing. I had a vio- 
lent revulsion of feeling. I remember I flung 
away the cigar with a certain wasteful symbol- 
ism. My folly came to me with glaring exag- 
geration. I seemed a traitor to my wife and 
to my kind ; I was filled with remorse. I re- 
solved to leave this strange undisciplined 

267 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

dreamer of great things to his drink and glut- 
tony, and to go on into London. There, it 
seemed to me, I had the best chance of learn- 
ing what the Martians and my fellow - men 
were doing. I was still upon the roof when 
the late moon rose. 



VIII 

DEAD LONDON 

After I had parted from the artilleryman, I 
went down the hill, and by the High Street 
across the bridge to Lambeth. The red weed 
was tumultuous at that time, and nearly choked 
the bridge roadway, but its fronds were already 
whitened in patches by the spreading disease 
that presently removed it so swiftly. 

At the corner of the lane that runs to Putney 
Bridge station I found a man lying. He was 
as black as a sweep with the black dust, alive, 
but helplessly and speechlessly drunk. I could 
get nothing from him but curses and furious 
lunges at my head. I think I should have 
stayed by him but for the brutal type of his 
face. 

There was black dust along the roadway 
from the bridge onwards, and it grew thicker 
in Fulham. The streets were horribly quiet. 
I got food — sour, hard, and mouldy, but quite 
eatable — in a baker's shop here. Some way 
towards Walham Green the streets became 

269 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

clear of powder, and I passed a white terrace 
of houses on fire ; the noise of the burning was 
an absolute relief. Going on towards Bromp- 
ton, the streets were quiet again. 

Here I came once more upon the black 
powder in the streets and upon dead bodies. 
I saw altogether about a dozen in the length 
of the Fulham Road. They had been dead 
many days, so that I hurried quickly past them. 
The black powder covered them over, and 
softened their outlines. One or two had been 
disturbed by dogs. 

Where there was no black powder, it was 
curiously like a Sunday in the City, with the 
closed shops, the houses locked up and the 
blinds drawn, the desertion, and the stillness. 
In some places plunderers had been at work, 
but rarely at other than the provision and 
wine -shops. A jeweller's window had been 
broken open in one place, but apparently the 
thief had been disturbed, and a number of gold 
chains and a watch were scattered on the pave- 
ment. I did not trouble to touch them. Far- 
ther on was a tattered woman in a heap on a 
doorstep ; the hand that hung over her knee 
was gashed and bled down her rusty brown 
dress, and a smashed magnum of champagne 
formed a pool across the pavement. She 
seemed asleep, but she was dead. 

270 



DEAD LONDON 

The farther I penetrated into London, the 
profounder grew the stillness. But it was not 
so much the stillness of death — it was the still- 
ness of suspense, of expectation. At any time 
the destruction that had already singed the 
northwestern borders of the metropolis, and 
had annihilated Ealing and Kilburn, might 
strike among these houses and leave them 
smoking ruins. It was a city condemned and 
derelict. ... 

In South Kensington the streets were clear 
of dead and of black powder. It was near 
South Kensington that I first heard the howl- 
ing. It crept almost imperceptibly upon my 
senses. It was a sobbing alternation of two 
notes, '^ Ulla, uUa, ulla, ulla," keeping on per- 
petually. When I passed streets that ran 
northward it grew in volume, and houses and 
buildings seemed to deaden and cut it off 
again. It came to a full tide down Exhibition 
Road. I stopped, staring towards Kensing- 
ton Gardens, wondering at this strange, remote 
wailing. It was as if that mighty desert of 
houses had found a voice for its fear and soli- 
tude. 

'' Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," wailed that superhu- 
man note — great waves of sound sweeping 
down the broad, sunlit roadway, between the 
tall buildings on each side. I turned north- 

271 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ward, marvelling, towards the iron gates of 
Hyde Park. I had half a mind to break into 
the Natural History Museum and find my way 
up to the summits of the towers, in order to 
see across the park. But I decided to keep to 
the ground, where quick hiding was possible, 
and so went on up the Exhibition Road. All 
the large mansions on each side of the road 
were empty and still, and my footsteps echoed 
against the sides of the houses. At the top, 
near the park gate, I came upon a strange 
sight — a bus overturned, and the skeleton of a 
horse picked clean. I puzzled over this for a 
time, and then went on to the bridge over the 
Serpentine. The voice grew stronger and 
stronger, though I could see nothing above 
the house-tops on the north side of the park, 
save a haze of smoke to the northwest. 

"Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," cried the voice, com- 
ing, as it seemed to me, from the district about 
Regent's Park. The desolating cry worked 
upon my mind. The mood that had sustained 
me passed. The wailing took possession of 
me. I found I was intensely weary, footsore, 
and now again hungry and thirsty. 

It was already past noon. Why was I wan- 
dering alone in this city of the dead ? Why 
was I alone when all London was lying in 
state, and in its black shroud ? I felt intolera 

272 



DEAD LONDON 

bly lonely. My mind ran on old friends that 
I had forgotten for years. I thought of the 
poisons in the chemists' shops, of the liquors 
the wine-merchants stored ; I recalled the two 
sodden creatures of despair who, so far as I 
knew, shared the city with myself. . . . 

I came into Oxford Street by the Marble 
Arch, and here again were black powder and 
several bodies, and an evil, ominous smell from 
the gratings of the cellars of some of the 
houses. I grew very thirsty after the heat of 
my long walk. With infinite trouble I man- 
aged to break into a public-house and get food 
and drink. I was weary after eating, and went 
into the parlor behind the bar, and slept on a 
black horse-hair sofa I found there. 

I awoke to find that dismal howling still in 
my ears, '^Ulla, ulla, ulla, uUa." It was now 
dusk, and after I had routed out some biscuits 
and a cheese in the bar — there was a meat- 
safe, but it contained nothing but maggots — 
I wandered on through the silent residential 
squares to Baker Street — Portman Square is 
the only one I can name — and so came out at 
last upon Regent's Park. And as I emerged 
from the top of Baker Street^ I saw far away 
over the trees in the clearness of the sunset 
the hood of the Martian giant from which this 
howling proceeded. I was not terrified. I 
s 273 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

came upon him as if it were a matter of course. 
I watched him for some time, but he did not 
move. He appeared to be standing and yell- 
ing, for no reason that I could discover. 

I tried to formulate a plan of action. That 
perpetual sound of '' Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," con- 
fused my mind. Perhaps I was too tired to 
be very fearful. Certainly I was more curious 
to know the reason of this monotonous crying 
than afraid. I turned back away from the 
park and struck into Park Road, intending to 
skirt the park, went along under shelter of 
the terraces, and got a view of this stationary, 
howling Martian from the direction of St. 
John's Wood. A couple of hundred yards out 
of Baker Street I heard a yelping chorus, and 
saw, first a dog with a piece of putrescent red 
meat in his jaws coming headlong towards me, 
and then a pack of starving mongrels in pur- 
suit of him. He made a wide curve to avoid 
me, as though he feared I might prove a fresh 
competitor. As the yelping died away down 
the silent road, the wailing sound of " Ulla, 
uU^, ulla, ulla," reasserted itself. 

I came upon the wrecked handling-machine 
half-way to St. John's Wood station. At first 
I thought a house had fallen across the road. 
It was only as I clambered among the ruins 
that I saw, with a start, this mechanical Sam- 

274 



DEAD LONDON 

son lying, with its tentacles bent and smashed 
and twisted, among the ruins it had made. 
The forepart was shattered. It seemed as if 
it had driven blindly straight at the house, 
and had been overwhelmed in its overthrow. 
It seemed to me then that this might have 
happened by a handling- machine escaping 
from the guidance of its Martian. I could not 
clamber among the ruins to see it, and the 
twilight was now so far advanced that the 
blood with which its seat was smeared, and the 
gnawed gristle of the Martian that the dogs 
had left, were invisible to me. 

Wondering still more at all that I had seen, 
I pushed on towards Primrose Hill. Far away, 
through a gap in the trees, I saw a second 
Martian, as motionless as the first, standing in 
the park towards the Zoological Gardens, and 
silent. A little beyond the ruins about the 
smashed handling - machine I came upon the 
red weed again, and found the Regent's Canal 
a spongy mass of dark-red vegetation. 

As I crossed the bridge, the sound of " Ulla, 
ulla, ulla, ulla," ceased. It was, as it were, cut 
off. The silence came like a thunder-clap. 

The dusky houses about me stood faint and 
tall and dim ; the trees towards the park were 
growing black. All about me the red weed 
clambered among the ruins, writhing to get 

275 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

above me in the dimness. Night, the mother of 
fear and mystery, was coming upon me. But 
while that voice sounded the solitude, the 
desolation, had been endurable ; by virtue of 
it London had still seemed alive, and the sense 
of life about me had upheld me. Then sud- 
denly a change, the passing of something — I 
knew not what— and then a stillness that could 
be felt. Nothing but this gaunt quiet. 

London about me gazed at me spectrally. 
The windows in the white houses were like the 
eye-sockets of skulls. About md my imagina- 
tion found a thousand noiseless enemies mov- 
ing. Terror seized me, a horror of my temer- 
ity. In front of me the road became pitchy 
black as though it was tarred, and I saw a con- 
torted shape lying across the pathway. I could 
not bring myself to go on. I turned down St. 
John's Wood Road, and ran headlong from 
this unendurable stillness towards Kilburn. 
I hid from the night and the silence, until 
long after midnight, in a cabmen's shelter in 
Harrow Road. But before the dawn my cour- 
age returned, and while the stars were still in 
the sky I turned once more towards Re- 
gent's Park. I missed my way among the 
streets, and presently saw, down a long avenue, 
in the half-light of the early dawn, the curve 
of Primrose Hill. On the summit, towering 



DEAD LONDON 

up to the fading stars, was a third Martian, 
erect and motionless like the others. 

An insane resolve possessed me. I would 
die and end it. And I would save myself even 
the trouble of killing myself. I marched on 
recklessly towards this Titan, and then, as I 
drew nearer and the light grew, I saw that a 
multitude of black birds was circling and clus- 
tering about the hood. At that my heart 
gave a bound, and I began running along the 
road. 

I hurried through the red weed that choked 
St. Edmund's Terrace (I waded breast-high 
across a torrent of water that was rushing 
down from the water-works towards the Al- 
bert Road), and emerged upon the grass before 
the rising of the sun. Great mounds had been 
heaped about the crest of the hill, making a 
huge redoubt of it — it was the final and larg- 
est place the Martians had made — and from 
behind these heaps there rose a thin smoke 
against the sky. Against the sky-line an eager 
dog ran and disappeared. The thought that 
had flashed into my mind grew real, grew cred- 
ible. I felt no fear, only a wild, trembling ex- 
ultation, as I ran up the hill towards the mo- 
tionless monster. Out of the hood hung lank 
shreds of brown, at which the hungry birds 
pecked and tore. 

277 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

In another moment I had scrambled up the 
earthen rampart and stood upon its crest, and 
the interior of the redoubt was below me. A 
mighty space it was, with gigantic machines 
here and there within it, huge mounds of ma- 
terial and strange shelter-places. And, scat- 
tered about it, some in their overturned war- 
machines, some in the now rigid handling- 
machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent 
and laid in a row, were the Martians — dead! — 
slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria 
against which their systems were unprepared ; 
slain as the red weed was being slain ; slain, 
after all man's devices had failed, by the hum- 
blest things that God, in his wisdom, has put 
upon this earth. 

For so it had come about, as, indeed, I and 
many men might have foreseen had not terror 
and disaster blinded our minds. These germs 
of disease have taken toll of humanity since 
the beginning of things — taken toll of our pre- 
human ancestors since life began here. But by 
virtue of this natural selection of our kind we 
have developed resisting power ; to no germs 
do we succumb without a struggle, and to many 
— those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, 
for instance — our living frames are altogether 
immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, 
and directly these invaders arrived, directly 

378 



DEAD LONDON 

they drank and fed, our microscopic allies be- 
gan to work their overthrow. Already when I 
watched them they were irrevocably doomed, 
dying and rotting even as they went to and 
fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion 
deaths man has bought his birthright of the 
earth, and it is his against all comers ; it would 
still be his were the Martians ten times as 
mighty as they are. For neither do men live 
nor die in vain. 

Here and there they were scattered, nearly 
fifty altogether, in that great gulf they had 
made, overtaken by a death that must have 
seemed to them as incomprehensible as any 
death could be. To me also at that time this 
death was incomprehensible. All I knew was 
that these things that had been alive and so 
terrible to men were dead. For a moment I 
believed that the destruction of Sennacherib 
had been repeated, that God had repented, 
that the Angel of Death had slain them in 
the night. 

I stood staring into the pit, and my heart 
lightened gloriously, even as the rising sun 
struck the world to fire about me with his 
rays. The pit was still in darkness ; the 
mighty engines, so great and wonderful in 
their power and complexity, so unearthly in 
their tortuous forms, rose weird and vague 

279 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

and strange out of the shadows towards the 
light. A multitude of dogs, I could hear, 
fought over the bodies that lay darkly in the 
depth of the pit, far below me. Across the pit 
on its farther lip, flat and vast and strange, lay 
the great flying-machine with which they had 
been experimenting upon our denser atmos- 
phere when decay and death arrested them. 
Death had come not a day too soon. At the 
sound of a cawing overhead I looked up at the 
huge fighting -machine, that would fight no 
more forever, at the tattered red shreds of 
flesh that dripped down upon the overturned 
seats on the summit of Primrose Hill. 

I turned and looked down the slope of the 
hill to where, enhaloed now in birds, stood 
those other two Martians that I had seen 
overnight, just as death had overtaken them. 
The one had died, even as it had been crying 
to its companions ; perhaps it was the last 
to die, and its voice had gone on perpetually 
until the force of its machinery was exhausted. 
They glittered now, harmless tripod towers of 
shining metal, in the brightness of the rising 
sun. 

All about the pit, and saved as by a miracle 
from everlasting destruction, stretched the 
great Mother of Cities. Those who have only 
seen London veiled in her sombre robes of 

280 



DEAD LONDON 

smoke can scarcely imagine the naked clear- 
ness and beauty of the silent wilderness of 
houses. 

Eastward, over the blackened ruins of the 
Albert Terrace and the splintered spire of the 
church, the sun blazed dazzling in a clear sky, 
and here and there some facet in the great 
wilderness of roofs caught the light and glared 
with a white intensity. 

Northward were Kilburn and Hampstead, 
blue and crowded with houses ; westward the 
great city was dimmed ; and southward, be- 
yond the Martians, the green waves of Regent's 
Park, the Langham Hotel, the dome of the 
Albert Hall, the Imperial Institute, and the 
giant mansions of the Brompton Road came 
out clear and little in the sunrise, the jagged 
ruins of Westminster rising hazily beyond. 
Far away and blue were the Surrey hills, and 
the towers of the Crystal Palace glittered like 
two silver rods. The dome of St. Paul's was 
dark against the sunrise, and injured, I saw for 
the first time, by a huge gaping cavity on its 
western side. 

And as I looked at this wide expanse of 
houses and factories and churches, silent and 
abandoned ; as I thought of the multitudinous 
hopes and efforts, the innumerable hosts of 
lives that had gone to build this human reef, 

281 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

and of the swift and ruthless destruction that 
had hung over it all ; when I realized that the 
shadow had been rolled back, and that men 
might still live in the streets, and this dear 
vast dead city of mine be once more alive and 
powerful, I felt a wave of emotion that was 
near akin to tears. 

The torment was over. Even that day the 
healing would begin. The survivors of the 
people scattered over the country — leaderless, 
lawless, foodless, like sheep without a shepherd 
— the thousands who had fled by sea, would 
begin to return ; the pulse of life, growing 
stronger and stronger, would beat again in 
the empty streets and pour across the vacant 
squares. Whatever destruction was done, the 
hand of the destroyer was stayed. All the 
gaunt wrecks, the blackened skeletons of houses 
that stared so dismally at the sunlit grass of 
the hill, would presently be echoing with the 
hammers of the restorers and ringing with the 
tapping of the trowels. At the thought I ex- 
tended my hands towards the sky and began 
thanking God. In a year, thought I — in a 
year ... 

And then, with overwhelming force, came 
the thought of myself, of my wife, and the old 
life of hope and tender helpfulness that had 
ceased forever. 

282 



IX 

WRECKAGE 

And now comes the strangest thing in my 
story. And yet, perhaps, it is not altogether 
strange. I remember, clearly and coldly and 
vividly, all that I did that day until the time 
that I stood weeping and praising God upon 
the summit of Primrose Hill. And then I forget 

Of the next three days I know nothing. I 
have learned since that, so far from my being 
the first discoverer of the Martian overthrow, 
several such wanderers as myself had already 
discovered this on the previous night. One 
man — the first — had gone to St. Martin's-le- 
Grand, and, while I sheltered in the cabmen's 
hut, had contrived to telegraph to Paris. 
Thence the joyful news had flashed all over 
the world ; a thousand cities, chilled by ghastly 
apprehensions, suddenly flashed into frantic 
illuminations ; they knew of it in Dublin, Edin- 
burgh, Manchester, Birmingham, at the time 
when I stood upon the verge of the pit. Al- 
ready men, weeping with joy, as I have heard, 

283 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

shouting and staying their work to shake hands 
and shout, were making up trains, even as near 
as Crewe, to descend upon London. The church 
bells that had ceased a fortnight since suddenly 
caught the news, until all England was bell- 
ringing. Men on cycles, lean-faced, unkempt, 
scorched along every country lane shouting of 
unhoped deliverance, shouting to gaunt, star- 
ing figures of despair. And for the food! 
Across the Channel, across the Irish Sea, across 
the Atlantic, corn, bread, and meat were tearing 
to our relief. All the shipping in the world 
seemed going Londonward in those days. But 
of all this I have no memory. I drifted — a 
demented man. I found myself in a house of 
kindly people, who had found me on the third 
day wandering, weeping, and raving through 
the streets of St. John's Wood. They have 
told me since that I was singing some inane 
doggerel about " The Last Man Left Alive ! 
Hurrah! The Last Man Left Alive!" Troubled 
as they were with their own affairs, these peo- 
ple, whose name, much as I would like to ex- 
press my gratitude to them, I may not even 
give here, nevertheless cumbered themselves 
with me, sheltered me, and protected me from 
myself. Apparently they had learned some- 
thing of my story from me during the days of 
my lapse. 

284 



WRECKAGE 

Very gently, when my mind was assured 
again, did they break to me what they had 
learned of the fate of Leatherhead. Two days 
after I was imprisoned it had been destroyed, 
with every soul in it, by a Martian. He had 
swept it out of existence, as it seemed, without 
any provocation, as a boy might crush an ant- 
hill, in the mere wantonness of power. 

I was a lonely man, and they were very kind 
to me. I was a lonely man and a sad one, and 
they bore with me. I remained with them 
four days after my recovery. All that time 
I felt a vague, a growing craving to look once 
more on whatever remained of the little life 
that seemed so happy and bright in my past. 
It was a mere hopeless desire to feast upon my 
misery. They dissuaded me. They did all they 
could to divert me from this morbidity. But 
at last I could resist the impulse no longer, 
and, promising faithfully to return to them, 
and parting, as I will confess, from these four- 
day friends with tears, I went out again into 
the streets that had lately been so dark and 
strange and empty. 

Already they were busy with returning peo- 
ple ; in places even there were shops open, and 
I saw a drinking-fountain running water. 

I remember how mockingly bright the day 
seemed as I went back on my melancholy pil- 

28s 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

grimage to the little house at Woking, how 
busy the streets and vivid the moving life 
about me. So many people were abroad every- 
where, busied in a thousand activities, that it 
seemed incredible that any great proportion of 
the population could have been slain. But 
then I noticed how yellow were the skins of 
the people I met, how shaggy the hair of the 
men, how large and bright their eyes, and that 
every other man still wore his dirty rags. The 
faces seemed all with one of two expressions — 
a leaping exultation and energy or a grim 
resolution. Save for the expression of the 
faces, London seemed a city of tramps. The 
vestries were indiscriminately distributing 
bread sent us by the French government. 
The ribs of the few horses showed dismally. 
Haggard special constables with white badges 
stood at the corners of every street. I saw 
little of the mischief wrought by the Martians 
until I reached Wellington Street, and there I 
saw the red weed clambering over the but- 
tresses of Waterloo Bridge. 

At the corner of the bridge, too, I saw one 
of the commxon contrasts of that grotesque 
time — a sheet of paper flaunting against a 
thicket of the red weed, transfixed by a stick 
that kept it in place. It was the placard of 
the first newspaper to resume publication — the 

286 



WRECKAGE 

Daily Mail, I bought a copy for a blackened 
shilling I found in my pocket. Most of it was 
in blank, but the solitary compositor who did 
the thing had amused himself by making a 
grotesque scheme of advertisement stereo on 
the back page. The matter he printed was 
emotional ; the news organization had not as 
yet found its way back. I learned nothing fresh 
except that already in one week the examina- 
tion of the Martian mechanisms had yielded 
astonishing results. Among other things, the 
article assured me what I did not believe at 
the time, that the "Secret of Flying" was dis- 
covered. At Waterloo I found the free trains 
that were taking people to their homes. The 
first rush was already over. There were few 
people in the train, and I was in no mood for 
casual conversation. I got a compartment to 
myself, and sat with folded arms, looking gray- 
ly at the sunlit devastation that flowed past 
the windows. And just outside the terminus 
the train jolted over temporary rails, and on 
either side of the railway the houses were 
blackened ruins. To Clapham Junction the 
face of London was grimy with powder of the 
Black Smoke, in spite of two days of thunder- 
storms and rain, and at Clapham Junction the 
line had been wrecked again ; there were hun- 
dreds of out-of-work clerks and shopmen work- 

287 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

ing side by side with the customary navvies, 
and we were jolted over a hasty relaying. 

All down the line from there the aspect of 
the country was gaunt and unfamiliar ; Wim- 
bledon particularly had suffered. Walton, by 
virtue of its unburned pine- woods, seemed the 
least hurt of any place along the line. The 
Wandle, the Mole, every little stream, was a 
heaped mass of red weed, in appearance be- 
tween butcher's meat and pickled cabbage. 
The Surrey pine-woods were too dry, however, 
for the festoons of the red climber. Beyond 
Wimbledon, within sight of the line, in certain 
nursery grounds, were the heaped masses of 
earth about the sixth cylinder. A number of 
people were standing about it, and some sap- 
pers were busy in the midst of it. Over it 
flaunted a Union Jack, flapping cheerfully in 
the morning breeze. The nursery grounds 
were everywhere crimson with the weed, a 
wide expanse of livid color cut with purple 
shadows, and very painful to the eye. One's 
gaze went with infinite relief from the scorched 
grays and sullen reds of the foreground to the 
blue-green softness of the eastward hills. 

The line on the London side of Woking 
station was still undergoing repair, so I de- 
scended at Byfleet station and took the road 
to Maybury, past the place where I and th^ 

288 



WRECKAGE 

artilleryman had talked to the hussars, and on 
by the spot where the Martian had appeared 
to me in the thunder-storm. Here, moved by 
curiosity, I turned aside to find, among a tan- 
gle of red fronds, the warped and broken dog- 
cart with the whitened bones of the horse, 
scattered and gnawed. For a time I stood re- 
garding these vestiges. . . 

Then I returned through the pine - wood, 
neck -high with red weed here and there, to 
find the landlord of the Spotted Dog had al- 
ready found burial, and so came home past the 
College Arms. A man standing at an open 
cottage door greeted me by name as I passed. 

I looked at my house with a quick flash of 
hope that faded immediately. The door had 
been forced ; it was unfastened, and was open- 
ing slowly as I approached. 

It slammed again. The curtains of my 
study fluttered out of the open window from 
which I and the artilleryman had watched the 
dawn. No one had closed it since. The 
smashed bushes were just as I had left them 
nearly four weeks ago. I stumbled into the 
hall, and the house felt empty. The stair- 
carpet was ruffled and discolored where I had 
crouched, soaked to the skin from the thunder- 
storm the night of the catastrophe. Our 
muddy footsteps I saw still went up the stairs. 
T 289 



THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

I followed them to my study, and found lying 
on my writing-table still, with the selenite 
paper-weight upon it, the sheet of work I had 
left on the afternoon of the opening of the 
cylinder. For a space I stood reading over my 
abandoned arguments. It was a paper on the 
probable development of Moral Ideas with the 
development of the civilizing process ; and the 
last sentence was the opening of a prophecy : 
" In about two hundred years," I had written, 
"we may expect — '' The sentence ended ab- 
ruptly. I remembered my inability to fix my 
mind that morning, scarcely a month gone by, 
and how I had broken off to get my Daily 
Chronicle from the newsboy. I remembered 
how I went down to the garden gate as he 
came along, and how I had listened to his odd 
story of " Men from Mars." 

I came down and went into the dining-room. 
There were the mutton ana the bread, both far 
gone now in decay, and a beer bottle over- 
turned, just as I and the artilleryman had left 
them. My home was desolate. I perceived 
the folly of the faint hope I had cherished so 
long. And then a strange thing occurred. 
"It is no use," said a voice. "The house is 
deserted. No one has been here these ten 
days. Do not stay here to torment yourself. 
No one escaped but you." 

290 



WRECKAGE 

I was startled. Had I spoken my thought 
aloud ? I turned, and the French window was 
open behind me. I made a step to it, and 
stood looking out. 

And there, amazed and afraid, even as I 
stood amazed and afraid, were my cousin and 
my wife — my wife white and tearless. She 
gave a faint cry. 

" I came,'* she said. " I knew — knew — " 

She put her hand to her throat — swayed. I 
made a step forward, and caught her in my 
arms. 



THE END 



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